Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Swaziland’s absolute monarch grants scholarship to student who begged him on hands and knees

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland/ eSwatini, has granted a scholarship to a female student who publicly got down on her hands and knees to beg him for one.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, said on Tuesday (15 January 2019) this ‘proved that he listens to the needs of the people and acts fast’.

Mphilwenhle Matsebula, aged 26, a first year student at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) made international news in September 2018 when according to the Observer ‘she literally begged for a scholarship’. It happened when King Mswati was touring the International Trade Fair at Manzini.

The Observer reported, ‘Matsebula has been granted the scholarship as per His Majesty’s order. Previously, Matsebula’s life at the institution was very difficult because government had initially refused to grant her the scholarship. She had been told she did not qualify for it.’

Swaziland’s education system like all public services is presently in crisis because the government, handpicked by King Mswati, is broke. In November 2018 it was reported students were forced to sell themselves for sex to businessmen and affluent tourists because government had not paid allowances.

The Sunday edition of the Swazi Observer reported at the time, ‘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’.

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 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 in 2018 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.

Mpilwenhle Matsebula begs King Mswati Swaziland’s absolute monarch (far left) for a university scholarship. (Picture: Swazi Observer)

See also

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Police in Swaziland beat 14-year-old who went to report she had been raped by her father, court told

A young woman in Swaziland / eSwatini told a court police beat her up when she went to report she had been raped by her father. She was 14 years old at the time.
She said he had repeatedly raped her up to three times a day for years. After she reported him to police he raped her again as punishment.

The case at Pigg’s Peak Magistrates’ Court was reported by the Times of Swaziland on Monday (14 January 2019). The newspaper said the woman who it called Nani (not her real name) reported her father in 2014 when she was 14 years old.

It said she was allegedly beaten up by female officers inside the Siphofaneni police station where she had gone to seek refuge.

‘She alleged that a police officer hit her using a case register while another officer held her hands,’ the Times reported.

It added, ‘In 2016, Nani gave birth to a baby girl whom she said was born from the alleged continued rape by her father. She believes that had the police arrested her father when she first reported the rape in 2014, she would not have fallen pregnant.’

The court was told the father allegedly began to rape his daughter when she was aged seven. Nani told the court that her father often had sex with her three times a day until February 2018.

The Times reported that the father allegedly raped her again immediately after she had reported him to police ‘as a way of punishing her’.

The father was eventually arrested by an officer from the  Buhleni Police Post. The case continues. The father has yet to testify.

Rape and sexual abuse of children is common in Swaziland. In 2013, UNICEF reported that one in three girls in Swaziland were sexually abused, usually by a family member and often by their own fathers - 75 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were known to the victim.

A report in Swaziland in 2009 suggested many men in Swaziland believed it was all right to rape children if their own wives were not giving them enough sex. Men who were interviewed during the making of the State of the Swaziland Population report said they ‘“salivate” over children wearing skimpy dress codes because they are sexually starved in their homes.’

Recorded figures on rape have shown Swaziland to have the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. In 2015, a report from a US organisation ABCNewspoint stated there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among 100,000 people.

Police in Swaziland have been criticised for their lack of concern over rape victims. In July 2017 the Swazi Observer said rape victims reported their plight was not being treated seriously by police and often they were simply dropped off at hospital and made to find their own help. It came at a time when 1,082 rapes had been reported in Swaziland in the previous two years.

The newspaper detailed one rape victim who reported her case to police and was taken to hospital two hours later. ‘On arrival, she was dropped off at the emergency gate from whence she had to find her way through the hospital after the police pointed her to the general direction.’

Not knowing the correct procedure she waited in line to be examined by a nurse. The Observer reported, ‘In the midst of the patients waiting to see nurses was a schoolgirl, in full uniform, dirty and beaten up, also an alleged survivor of sexual assault. It was only after several hours of waiting, in her bloody and mud caked clothes that the survivor was assisted and taken to the Gender Based Violence (GBV) Unit ,which was recently constructed.’

A teacher at a primary school in the outskirts of Manzini told the newspaper she had assisted a pupil who had been attacked on her way to school and took her to hospital. ‘The process of getting the rape reported is traumatising the survivors,’ the teacher said. ‘The confusion and helplessness that comes with such violation is further confounded by the process that it takes for one to get assistance.’ 

The teacher added, ‘On reaching the hospital, having secured transport on a taxi, we were told to go to the police station first in order to enable her to be attended as assault and rape cases only get attention after being reported to the police.’ She said they were sent from one police post to another and finally had to wait two hours before being taken to hospital.

The teacher said, ‘If the experience was this traumatic for me as a person assisting, how much more those who go to the police without assistance and get haphazard reception?’

See also

Alleged rape of two-year-old in Swaziland covered up in name of local culture

‘Dad rapes daughter to test virginity’

Custom law lets husbands rape wives

In Swaziland, child rape not unusual