Thursday, October 31, 2019

Swaziland police ‘beat teenager to death to make him confess to crime he did not commit’

Community police in Swaziland (eSwatini) allegedly beat a teenager to death to make him confess to a crime he had not committed.

They used knobkerries and batons on Celumusa Dlamini, aged 17, the Times of eSwatini reported from Mahwalala.

Community police in Swaziland have a long record of illegal beatings.

In the latest case, the Times reported that Dlamini was one of six people accused by the police of robbing an elderly man. It said he was interrogated through the night and died of his injuries.

‘Knobkerries and batons were allegedly some of the objects that were used by the community police members to retrieve the truth” from the minor and the five others,’ the Times reported.

It added it later transpired that Dlamini was not part of the gang that committed the robbery.

Community police in Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch, have a long history of attacks on people. In June 2019 it was reported police at Gundvwini in the Manzini region 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. 

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time the boy’s aunt said the boy he had been taken to the mountains and had his private parts squeezed before being ordered to undress. After undressing, he 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. They have the authority to arrest suspects concerning minor offences for trial by an inner council within the chiefdom. For serious offences 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. 

See also

Police beat man close to death
Police gang-rape schoolgirl

Community police banish gay men

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

More than half surveyed in Swaziland against legalising the growing of cannabis

More than half the people surveyed in Swaziland (eSwatini) said they were against legalising the growing of cannabis (known locally as dagga).

They also said they would not report a person if they found them growing or selling the drug.
At least two companies based in the United States have expressed serious interest in operating growing farms and processing plants for medical cannabis and industrial hemp in Swaziland.
The Swazi Government in a statement on its website said ‘in anticipating significant economic and medical benefit from the legalization of cannabis for medical and scientific use,’ it was ‘working on an enabling legislative environment for this purpose’.

Swaziland is famous for its Swazi Gold dagga but growing the crop is illegal in the kingdom.
Cannabis (also known as marijuana) also has non-intoxicating forms (known as hemp) that can be used to make fabrics, ropes, papers, and oils, among other uses.

Afrobarometer, a non-partisan research network across Africa, interviewed 1,200 adults in Swaziland. Results suggested a majority (57 percent) of those interviewed ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’ with the idea of broadly legalising the cultivation of cannabis as a way to create economic opportunity for people. Four in 10 respondents (40 percent) favoured legalisation. The survey asked about legalisation of cannabis cultivation in general and did not explore views on legalising specific aspects of the cannabis industry, such as medical marijuana.

Support for legalising cultivation is somewhat higher – though still a minority view – among urban residents (47 percent), younger respondents (45 percent of 18- to 35-year-olds), and those with secondary (42 percent) or post-secondary (43 percent) education. Respondents’ socio-economic level makes little difference on this issue.

More than six in 10 respondents (63 percent) believe that legalisation of cultivation would be harmful to the kingdom. 

Afrobarometer reported people in Swaziland were asked what they considered the most important problems their government should address. ‘Their top priorities are unemployment (cited by 42 percent of respondents) and poverty (22 percent). 

‘While the cannabis industry’s potential as a source of jobs, income, and tax revenues has not persuaded most citizens that marijuana cultivation should be legalised, support for such a move is somewhat higher than average among respondents who are not employed and looking for work (44 percent), those who see the country’s economic situation as “fairly bad” or “very bad” (43 percent), and those who think the government is performing poorly on creating jobs (44 percent) and improving living standards of the poor (44 percent).’

The report added despite the opposition to legalising cultivation, most of those surveyed said they would not report people to the authorities for cultivating or selling marijuana. Even people outside the family would be safe from being reported, according to more than three-quarters of respondents (76 percent).

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Doubts over survey result that suggests attitudes on wife-beating improving in Swaziland

Only five in 100 people surveyed in Swaziland (eSwatini) said wife-beating was ‘sometimes’ or ‘always justified.’

The results suggest that attitudes are improving in the kingdom where in a 2015 survey four in ten married women in Swaziland said their husbands had the right to beat them.

In the new study Afrobarometer surveyed 34 countries in Africa. Swaziland was among the best in the survey. The average result across the countries was 28 percent. Full results of the survey are still to be published.

The survey result runs counter to the experience of women in Swaziland. A total of 2,068 cases of domestic violence were recorded in Swaziland between August 2018 and March 2019. There were also 430 cases of rape reported.

In traditional culture in Swaziland women are owned by their men (husbands or fathers). In the 2015 survey called the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey Comparative Report a number reasons for wife-beating were given by women which included; ‘if she refused to have sex with him, if she argued with him, if she went out without telling him, if she neglected the children and if she had sex with other men’.

The APA news agency reported at the time, ‘Silindelo Nkosi, the Communication and Advocacy Officer for Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said, “These beliefs of justifying abuse have increased to the worst rate resulting in more young women dying in the hands of their lovers or husbands.”’

In June 2008 it was reported that the National Democratic and Health Survey found that 40 percent of men in Swaziland said it was all right to beat women. The same year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) found that the status of some women in Swaziland was so low that they were practically starved at meal times, because men folk ate first and if there was not enough food for everyone, the women went without.

In 2013 a 317-page document called The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2013) was presented to King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. It said that under Swazi Law and Custom a husband can legally rape his wife or his lover. Under Chapter 7, which addresses offences (emacala) in Swaziland, rape is said to be committed only if the woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.

In October 2017 four of six married women interviewed on the streets of Mbabane by the Swazi News said their husbands had the right to rape them. It reported some wives said their husbands deserved sex whenever they wanted.

It is not known how man husbands force themselves on their wives but 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.

See also

Swazi culture and wife beating

Customary law lets husbands rape wives