Thursday, June 7, 2018


Three soldiers in Swaziland / Eswatini have been charged with assault for burying a man alive after they accused him of stealing a phone from them.

It happened at Mbekelweni and is one of many reported cases of soldiers assaulting civilians in the kingdom.

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (5 June 2018) that the three soldiers from the Swaziland Umbutfo Defence Force (the official name of the army) had been drinking at a bar and offered to give a lift home to a resident named Dludlu. Later they discovered a cellphone was missing. Next day they went to the man’s home with another man and accused him of theft.

The newspaper reported they assaulted the man. ‘It is said the soldiers then dragged Dludlu into a pit which was dug for a pit latrine and threw him inside and placed a corrugated iron sheet on top,’ it said.

‘While Dludlu was trapped inside the pit, the soldiers and the other man had a conversation among themselves as to what they would do with him. It is said some were heard suggesting that they should just leave him trapped underneath while another suggested that they set fire on top of the pit with Dludlu underneath.’

The Observer reported Dludlu asked the soldiers to take him to the police rather than torture him.

‘He said he was told by the army officials that they were not afraid of the police as they are also law enforcers hence they will deal with him,’ the newspaper reported.

The soldiers were interrupted by a phone call and decided ‘to spare Dludlu’s life’, the newspaper added. They took E300 from his pockets before leaving.

There have been many reports in Swaziland of soldiers assaulting civilians. In December 2017 they were accused of routinely sexually assaulting women as they crossed border posts with South Africa.
The Observer on Saturday reported at the time, ‘The army troops have been accused by women of abusing their powers by touching them inappropriately as they lay their hands on their buttocks just to allow to cross either to South Africa or into Swaziland. 

‘Some women when being searched for illegal goods alleged that they are touched almost everywhere by the male army officers and these informal crossings.’

The newspaper said the inappropriate behaviour took place ‘almost every day’ around the Ngwenya informal crossing. 

It was one of several reports army misbehaviour at borders. In July 2017 soldiers reportedly forced a bus-load of passengers to strip naked after it crossed the Mhlumeni Border Gate into Mozambique. Local media reported it happened all the time. 

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported they were ordered to strip ‘stark naked’ as part of a ‘routine body search’. The newspaper said the passengers had been on vacation in Mozambique.

In June 2017 it was reported women at the informal crossing situated next to the Mananga Border Gate with South Africa were made to remove their underwear so soldiers could inspect their private parts with a mirror. The Swazi Army said it happened all the time.

Soldiers were said to be searching for ‘illegal objects’ using a mirror similar to that used to inspect the underside of cars.

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.

The assaults are not confined to border areas. 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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