Community police in Swaziland / eSwatini illegally forced a six-year-old boy to strip and then thrashed him on the naked buttocks after he was accused of stealing a cellphone from a schoolteacher.
It was one of a long list of cases where community police have taken the law into their own hands.
The latest case happened at Gundvwini in the Manzini region, the Times of Swaziland reported on Monday (17 June 2019).
The newspaper reported the aunt of the boy said he had been thrashed by a community police member. It reported, ‘She said the pupil informed her that he had been taken to the mountains and had his private parts squeezed before being ordered to undress. After undressing, she said Simo was allegedly thrashed a number of times with a stick on his bare buttocks.’
The community police operate in rural Swaziland and are supervised by traditional chiefs who are local representatives of King Mswati III, Swaziland’s absolute monarch. They have the authority to arrest suspects concerning minor offenses for trial by an inner council within the chiefdom. For serious offenses suspects should be handed over to the official police for further investigations.
There have been a number of cases reported by media in Swaziland where community police have acted illegally. In June 2018 five community police officers at Ngoloweni in Sandleni attacked a man described as ‘mentally disturbed’ and beat him close to death and set his genitals on fire. They suspected the 44-year-old man had attempted to rape a girl aged six.
In April 2018 it was reported that two community police officers at Malindza stripped a man naked, tied him to a tree and flogged his bare buttocks with sticks until they bled profusely. They had accused him of stealing pots from his grandfather’s house.
In March 2018 a court heard that three community policemen from Dvokolwako gang-raped a 17-year-old schoolgirl at knifepoint and forced her boyfriend to watch. One of them recorded it on his cellphone. The teenager was in her school uniform while she and her boyfriend walked to a river after a school athletics competition. The community policemen told them they were on patrol to make sure none of the pupils committed any offences during the athletics competition.
In 2014 three Malindza community police beat to death a mentally challenged man who had escaped from the National Psychiatric Centre.
In 2011 community police in Kwaluseni reportedly threatened to murder democracy activist Musa Ngubeni if he was released on bail pending trial on explosive offences. Residents accused the community police in the area of being involved in criminal activities.
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