Sunday, September 17, 2017


The family of the man who was killed at point blank range in ‘cowboy style’ by Swaziland police are calling for an inquiry. 

They say Siboniso Brian Mdluli (22), was assassinated by trigger happy police officers for no apparent reason, according to a local media report.

On 21 August 2017 a newspaper in Swaziland reported, ‘It is believed he died as a result of excessive bleeding. It is said police riddled him with bullets as he was fleeing while they were trying to arrest him.’

It happened when police raided the home of Mdluli’s girlfriend. They were searching for him in connection to an alleged armed robbery and illegal possession of a firearm.  

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (12 September 2017), ‘The family members have a strong feeling that their son was not incidentally killed, but he was assassinated by the same police officers who arrived at the girlfriend’s rented house.’

It added, ‘It is unclear as to why the police opened fire other than claims that Mdluli was escaping from lawful arrest, but another version was that he was shot at close range. 

‘After the fatal shot, it is said Siboniso died and his body was found the following morning.’

The Observer reported, ‘The family also believes the killing of their son was deliberate as they (police) did not make any attempt to find out what happened after the fatal bullet hit the target but they decided to leave, only for the deceased to be found by residents at a neighbour’s yard.’

It added, ‘The deceased’s uncle Thulani Mbuyisa said as a family they need an explanation as to why the police brutally killed their son. 

‘He said the family was still in pain as they were not expecting such a thing to happen and such brutality by police was a tip of an iceberg as it was now clear that many innocent lives have been lost as a result of police being trigger happy. 

‘“They (police) assassinated him and that is a fact and we do not want to believe Siboniso, young as he was, could overcome armed police officers.”’

The newspaper added, ‘He said even after the body was found, when searched, no firearm or any live round of ammunition were found except for E15.10 which was found in the pair of jeans he was wearing.’

Swazi police have a long history of shooting civilians in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In November 2015 they shot a man at close range after he overturned rubbish bins and then ran away from them. The Times of Swaziland, reported at the time that a 21-year-old man had been suspected of throwing rubbish in the road and pelting vehicles with stones. The newspaper said, ‘he was shot by police at close range after refusing to board their vehicle’.

In October 2015 police fired guns and teargas at workers engaged in a legitimate protest against employment conditions at the Zheng Yong Garment factory in Nhlangano. 

A plain-clothed policeman shot an unarmed man in the back killing him while on a public bus in February 2014. The man had allegedly stolen some copper wire before boarding the bus, travelling from Siteki, in eastern Swaziland to Manzini. The Times Sunday newspaper reported at the time the driver of the bus Majahonke Zikalala said, ‘the man was attempting to force his way out of the bus, the police officer shot him in the back, near the spine… the man fell on the floor after which he was handcuffed while he bled’. He died of his injures at the scene.

In March 2013, Swaziland police shot a man dead in front of his 11-year-old child as he held his hands up in an attempt to surrender to them. Thokozani Mngometulu, aged 31, was killed as he got out of his car at his homestead in Dlakadla, in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland. Thokozani’s family, who also witnessed the killing, say he was shot in the pelvis at close range by a police officer.

In June 2012, a serial rapist suspect Bhekinkhosi Masina, popularly known as Scarface, was shot by police as they cornered him for arrest. Police say they only shot him in the thigh and he unexpectedly died of his injuries. The Times of Swaziland newspaper later revealed he had been shot six times, including in the head and back.

In July 2012, a mentally ill man, Mduduzi Mngometulu, aged 34,
was shot seven times by police and died of his injuries. He had four holes in his stomach, one in the leg and two bullet wounds on the left side of his chest.

These are not isolated incidents in Swaziland where police across the kingdom have a growing record of killing or maiming suspects before arrest. The cases have largely gone unreported outside of the kingdom itself.

In one example, police executed a suspect, Thabani Mafutha Dlamini, at Nkwalini in Hlatikulu in the presence of his colleagues and home boys
in what local media called ‘cowboy style’. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported the incident in December 2011 saying, ‘Police had previously warned the mother of the dead man to “budget for funeral expenses” as they intended to remove him. He was said to be on a police “wanted list”’. Dlamini was unarmed.

In a separate case in February 2011, a Swazi policeman shot Mbongeni Masuku, described in media as a Form IV pupil, in the head in what was later described as
‘an execution-style killing’. The killing happened outside a bar in Matsapha, an industrial town in Swaziland. Masuku’s uncle Sigayoyo Maphanga said Mbongeni had been dragged out of his car by police. He told the Swazi Observer, a policeman whom he named, ‘shot my nephew at the back of the left ear and he fell on the ground with blood oozing from his mouth and ears. We were all shocked and angered by such brutality from police officers.’ 

In May 2011, Mathende Matfonsi was shot dead by police while he was attending a field of dagga (marijuana) inside the remote forests of Lomahasha near the border with Mozambique. His family accused the police of ‘cold-blooded murder’. Matfonsi was shot dead at Ebhandeni, the same area where Nkosinathi Khathwane had previously been shot dead by soldiers at night.

In March 2010, police
shot a man as he was trying to surrender to them. This time the victim, Mncedisi Mamba, did not die. His mother Thoko Gamedze said Mamba had his hands up and was surrendering to police, but they shot him anyway.

It is not only crime suspects who get shot at. In June 2013, police
fired live bullets and teargas as children protested against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini Police were called after school pupils boycotted classes.

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