Thursday, November 29, 2018

Man close to death following ‘assault’ by officers at Swaziland police station

A man is reportedly fighting for life in hospital after being allegedly assaulted by two officers at a police station in Swaziland/ Eswatini.

He is suffering from severe internal bleeding, heart seizures, the swelling of his kidneys and nerve damage on both his arms and legs.

The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (29 November 2018) that the man whom it did not name was from Mangwaneni. It said police accused him of having stolen items from a house, which he denied.

It reported him saying, ‘[Police] assaulted me by first tying a piece of cloth around my mouth so that I cannot scream. They then hit me multiple times with fists and kicks in the stomach. I fell to the floor and the police stood on my stomach while laughing. They then put a plastic bag over may face and thereafter sank my head into water until I passed out.’

It reportedly happened on Saturday. Since then the alleged victim has been in hospital.

The Observer reported, ‘Currently, the assault victim is still in critical condition with medical practitioners saying he might lose his life due to the multiple internal injuries he allegedly suffered during the assault.’

Police said they were investigating the alleged incident.

There are numerous reports in Swaziland of assault and brutality at police stations. In September 2018, four women were reportedly beaten with sjamboks [whips] and pipes and scalded with boiling water at Siteki police station. Two of them needed hospital treatment for burns and blisters. They were accused of stealing from shops.

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 at Ngwenya police station with a sjambok, to make him confess to stealing a mobile phone. 

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.

See also

Police must not beat suspects: Court

Monday, November 26, 2018

Swaziland students sell themselves for sex because scholarships have not been paid

Students in Swaziland / Eswatini are selling themselves for sex to raise cash for food because the government has not paid their allowances.
A trade in young women has developed with businessmen ‘pimping’ students to affluent tourists from neighbouring South Africa, the Sunday edition of the Swazi Observer reported (5 November 2018).

According to the newspaper the students are taken from the Kwaluseni campus of the University of Eswatini (formerly UNISWA), ‘for purposes of pimping them to affluent tourists flooding a popular hangout spot in Matsapha’.

The Observer reported, ‘These businessmen take advantage of  the girls’ financial situation on campus and select “top of the grade” individuals for purposes of promoting their business into hosting upmarket guests. They also take advantage of the girl’s academic statuses to market them to guests who arrive solely for purposes of whetting their sexual appetites.’

The newspaper reported, ‘delayed payments of allowances which themselves are meagre force girl students into availing themselves for sexual favours in exchange for food, drinks and other goodies’.

It said the businessmen target the youngest first-year students.

It quoted one student saying, ‘They become virtual call girls.’ The student added the men spend fortunes on them and then demand sex.

There is an ongoing dispute between students and the government over the payment of scholarships and allowances that cover fees, living expenses and items such as books. In May 2017, the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) launched a campaign for scholarships for all. They want the Swazi Government to reverse a decision taken eight years ago to prioritise courses and cut scholarships by 60 percent. Students want all students admitted to higher learning institutions to have scholarships, regardless of the programme they are doing or the institution they are in.

Meanwhile, the outgoing President of SNUS Brian Sangweni told its 11th National General Congress that thousands of high school graduates with good grades remained idle at home because the government would not pay them scholarships to study.

He said, ‘Those who are lucky to make it and enrol into the institutions are also not off the hook of suffering due to lack of living allowances to enable them to live a healthy and dignified period of study and to realise their optimal potential.’

He added students were finding it hard to concentrate to their studies and some dropped out or committed suicide because of the pressure.

See also

In full public view, on hand and knees student begs Swaziland King for scholarship

Friday, November 23, 2018

Swaziland has no cash to pay elderly pensions, Prime Minister says he will fly business class to save money

Swaziland / Eswatini is so broke that pensions for the elderly are not being paid.  State-controlled radio has been broadcasting the news over the past few days.

It is another example of how the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III has been mismanaged. The pensions for people aged 60 and over, known locally as elderly grants, are for E400 (US$30) per month. 

About 70,000 people receive the grants which often are the only income a family has.

A year ago it was reported  more than 80 percent of women aged 60 and over and 70 percent of men in Swaziland lived in poverty. The figures were contained in the National Strategy and Action Plan to End Violence in Swaziland: 2017 to 2022.

About seven in ten of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population live in abject poverty defined as having incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The report said poverty among people aged 60 or over was highest compared to other age groups.

News that elderly grants cannot be paid comes as the new government in Swaziland announced ‘cost-saving’ measures. At a press conference on Thursday (22 November 2018) Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini announced that senior government officials would no longer fly first class when they travelled abroad on official business. In future they would go by business class.

He also shelved a plan to buy new top-of-the-range vehicles for himself and the Deputy Prime Minister. Cars recently rented for the use of Cabinet ministers will be returned.

Swaziland is broke and as of 30 June 2018 owed a total of E12.9 billion, the equivalent of 20.8 percent of the kingdom’s GDP. Of that nearly E3 billion is owed to suppliers of goods and services.

Hospitals and health centres across Swaziland have run out of medicines, including  vaccines against polio and tuberculosis, because drug suppliers had not been paid. 

In June 2018 it was reported that children collapsed with hunger in their school because the government had not paid for food for them. The kingdom had previously been warned to expect children to starve because the government had not paid its suppliers for the food that is distributed free of charge at schools. The shortage was reported to be widespread across the kingdom.

Meanwhile, King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as one of the world’s last absolute monarchs, wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds weighing 6 kg, at his 50th birthday party in April. Days earlier he took delivery of his second private jet, a A340 Airbus, that after VIP upgrades reportedly cost US$30 million. He received E15 million (US$1.2 million) in cheques, a gold dining room suite and a gold lounge suite among his birthday gifts. He now has two private planes, 13 palaces and fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars.

See also

Swazi Govt fails to pay elderly grants