Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Police in Swaziland attacked people at an illegal drinking den with guns and whips in what a local newspaper called, ‘the truest form of brutality’.

It happened in the Ezulwini area. The Observer on Saturday reported (23 December 2017) police attacked one well-known illegal shebeen arriving in unmarked cars at about 10 pm. ‘Gunshots were heard with the sizeable number of police officers literally going out of their way to assault the patrons hitting them randomly with whips (tinsilane) and fists,’ it said.

It added, ‘Most patrons  were forced to run helter-skelter into the thick of night in a panic and in the process getting hurt by barbed wires on the fence.’

The newspaper reported that usually when police raided shebeens they just confiscated the alcohol. 

The Observer reported, ‘According to onlookers and victims who have lived to tell the tale, the over 30 police officers who were armed to the teeth with guns and whips, clad in their navy uniform that worked well for them in the dark as they were not easily spotted until they pounced on their unsuspecting prey, they just emerged from nowhere.’

The newspaper said similar raids had taken place across Swaziland. Residents at a shebeen in Sidwashini said they had also been ordered to surrender illegal immigrants.

In December 2017, it was reported that police intended to take ‘a robust approach on any acts of criminality that may rear its ugly head during the holidays’. 

Police brutality is commonplace in Swaziland where King Mswati III rues as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In August 2017, a security guard told Mbabane court a female police officer sat on his face and other officers assaulted him after they accused him of stealing motor parts.

In March 2017, A man accused of multiple murders told a court he was tortured by police for 11 days to force him to confess. He said he was suffocated with a tube and assaulted all over his body, resulting in many serious injuries. The alleged attack was said to have taken place at Lobamba Police Station, the Manzini Magistrates’ Court was told.

In January 2017, local media reported police forced a 13-year-old boy to remove his trousers and flogged him with a sjambok, to make him confess to stealing a mobile phone. 

In September 2016, women were reportedly ambushed by armed police and ‘brutally attacked’ by police during a strike at the Plantation Forest Company, near Pigg’s Peak. 

In June 2016, a United Nations review panel looking into human rights in Swaziland was told in a joint report by four organisations, ‘In Mbabane [the Swazi capital], police tortured a 15-year-old boy after his mother had reported him for stealing E85.00 (US$6). The boy alleges that he was beaten with a slasher (metal blade tool for cutting grass) and knobkerrie (club) for five hours. While enduring the pain, he alleges that he was made to count the strokes aloud for the police to hear. Instead of being charged, the boy was physically assaulted and made to sit in a chair for thirty minutes before he was sent back home.’

The report was submitted to the United Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland by the Swaziland Multi-Media Community Network, Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations and Constituent Assembly – Swaziland.

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