Monday, January 8, 2018


Three pregnant soldiers in Swaziland were locked up naked in a guardroom without water, food or access to the toilet in the latest example of bullying by the Army.

The ordeal which lasted 12 hours was a punishment for not taking part in physical exercises, the Swazi News reported on Saturday (6 January 2017).

The women described as ‘heavily pregnant’ said they were no longer fit to take up intense routine exercises meant for physical fitness. The News said it happened on 26 December 2017 at the Matsapha Army Barracks.

The News said female officers would not arrest the women and take them to the guardhouse so male officers were called.

One of the pregnant women told the newspaper, ‘We were shocked to see male soldiers storming our dormitories where they dragged us and carried us to the guardroom. It was very humiliating and it was the first of its kind.’

She said the women decided to be naked to deter their male colleagues from dragging them to the guardhouse.

The News reported, ‘While in the guardhouse they remained naked for over four hours until some of their friends decided to send them clothes which they wore for the remaining eight hours while they were still locked in.’

This was the latest example of bullying within the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force as the Army is officially known.

In January 2017, four potential army recruits were tortured for about 90 minutes when they tried to cheat on a run. The punishment included having to pose like a urinating dog for 20 minutes appears to have been officially sanctioned. It contravened the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

It happened at Mafutseni during a recruitment exercise. Fifteen men had to complete a 3.2km run, but four of them were spotted getting into a car that was to take them close to the finishing line.

The Times of Swaziland, reported at the time that they were caught and punished for about an hour and a half. They were ordered to do push-ups, which were followed by sit-ups. They were also ordered to lie on their backs and face the sun. They were also instructed to ‘sit on an invisible chair’ while holding their ears with their hands. They were ordered to pose like a urinating male dog for about 20 minutes.

The Army has also tortured and humiliated civilians in Swaziland. In September 2015, the Swazi Parliament heard that soldiers beat up old ladies so badly they had to be taken to their homes in wheelbarrows. 

Member of Parliament Titus Thwala said that the women were among the local residents who were regularly beaten by soldiers at informal crossing points between Swaziland and South Africa.

In 2011, a man was reportedly beaten with guns and tortured for three hours by soldiers who accused him of showing them disrespect. He was ordered to do press ups, frog jumps and told to run across a very busy road and was beaten with guns every time he tried to resist.

His crime was that he tried to talk to a man whose vehicle was being searched by soldiers at Maphiveni. The man, December Sikhondze, told the Swazi Observer at the time, ‘I only asked for a lift but they told me I was being disrespectful and that I should have waited for them to finish. They took my cell phone and ordered me to do press ups.’

In July 2011, three armed soldiers left a man for dead after he tried to help a woman they were beating up. And in a separate incident, a woman was beaten by two soldiers after she tried to stop them talking to her sister.

He said that he did more than 50 press ups and he was beaten with guns every time he asked to rest.

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