Police in Swaziland (eSwatini) are to set up road blocks across the kingdom and increase patrols in towns, cities and rural areas to force people to obey the coronavirus lockdown.
National Commissioner of Police William Dlamini said they would be working with other security forces such as the army and prison service.
National Commissioner of Police William Dlamini. Picture: Government of eSwatini
He told a press briefing on Friday (24 April 2020), ‘We will be spread across the country, conducting roadblocks and be visible in cities, towns and rural areas ensuring compliance.’
He said cars would be stopped and drivers questioned about the purpose of their journey and if they did not have a valid reason they would be turned back.
Swaziland has been in partial lockdown since 27 March 2020. Last week the Swazi Government relaxed the lockdown but only days later reversed the decision. There are restrictions on businesses, large gatherings and travel.
Since the lockdown began there have been a number of media reports of police brutality against people allegedly disregarding the lockdown. Dlamini told the briefing, ‘We assure the nation that all security officers have been reminded that their duty is to assist, not abuse.’
The police commissioner also warned about the spread of ‘fake news’. The day before journalist Eugene Dube had been beaten and arrested by police. He faces a treason charge for publishing articles critical of King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch.
Dlamini said, ‘The law will take its course on those people who spread fake news about the pandemic and about the country’s authorities. Even if one can hide wherever they are but the law will always reach them and [they] will be apprehended.’
As of 24 April there has been only one reported death from coronavirus (COVID-19) in Swaziland and 40 people have tested positive.
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