In an editorial in the newspaper it speaks approvingly of taking suspects to the river and tying them to trees so that they freeze.
The police and state security forces regularly torture alleged suspects, including pro-democracy campaigners, in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The Observer was commenting on a case heard at magistrates court where a man accused of housebreaking said he had been savagely beaten by police using an iron rod to make him confess to the crime.
The Observer said the police probably did this because they ‘cannot have their precious time wasted by small time thieves like these’.
The newspaper went onto reminisce about the days ‘when police wore shorts, and polished their boots to a mirror finish, such would never happen’.
It went on, ‘For such trivialities, the investigating officer would simply take the accused to the nearest river, especially when it was winter and a few hours before the break of dawn.
‘The suspect would then be fastened to a tree, and told the officers would be returning in a few hours. As the waves crashed on the boulders spraying drops of water on the suspect, he would shiver and gnash his teeth so much that he prayed the cops returned much earlier.
‘By the time they return, he would be more than willing to spill the beans and Bingo! the mystery was solved.’
In May 2012 the US State Department investigated the use of torture in Swaziland and found, ‘Security officers reportedly used torture during interrogation, assaulted citizens, and used excessive force in carrying out their duties. Reported practices included beatings and temporary suffocation using a rubber tube tied around the face, nose, and mouth, or plastic bags over the head.’
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