Monday, July 31, 2017


New allegations have surfaced about corruption in Swaziland’s jails. Warders are reportedly selling drugs to inmates. This comes after a report that warders also smuggled alcohol into jail for prisoners.

The latest claim was reported by the Swazi Observer on Thursday (27 July 2017). The newspaper said dagga (marijuana) was sold at Bhalekane Correctional Centre.

It quoted a former inmate it called ‘Mkhonta’ who said there was a dagga field close to the correctional facility and it was easy to get the drug. He said, ‘You can even get dagga that weighs 5kg if you have the money for it.’

The Observer reported, ‘According to Mkhonta there is a smoke that fills the Bhalekane facility cells daily produced by the dagga that is being smoked inside the dorms.

‘“To most it seems like there is fire being burning from outside, I am sure the first thought that comes to a passer-by’s mind when they see it, is that the prison is on fire yet it is from smoking,” he said.’

Correctional Services spokesperson Superintendent Gugulethu Dlamini told the newspaper it was impossible for officers to sneak drugs into the facility. She added,  ‘Even if the officers can follow the smell of the dagga being smoked, it can be hard to tell exactly who was smoking.’

The allegation came only weeks after a report that there had been a cover-up at Sidwashini women’s jail where a senior officer had allegedly been illegally supplying alcohol to inmates. 

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Saturday, July 29, 2017


Prison warders at a women’s jail in Swaziland were investigated after a newspaper alleged they were supplying alcohol to inmates.

It happened at Sidwashini Correctional Services where one unnamed senior officer was reportedly at the centre of the corruption. Senior officers from His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) have been investigating.

The Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland (23 July 2017) reported, ‘a night of alleged bingeing was discovered one morning due to a tell-tale stench of stale alcohol’. Junior officers at the jail spoke to the press about it and claimed a senior ranking officer was supplying the alcohol.

Officers and inmates at Sidvwashini were questioned.

The Sunday Observer reported, ‘According to sources at the correctional facility, officers could not determine how long this had been going on.’

The newspaper quoted a junior officer saying, ‘It makes me sick to my stomach knowing how easy it is to break the law, and serves as reminder that I can easily swop my green uniform for the prisoner’s grey.’

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One of Swaziland’s foremost pro-democracy groups has called on governments and activists across Africa to support the campaign for freedom in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) made the call ahead of a Mobilising International Solidarity for the Democratisation of Swaziland conference in Johannesburg on Saturday (29 July 2017). 

SSN spokesperson Lucky Lukhele told News 24 Africa needed to be leading the fight for democracy in Swaziland where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Lukhele told the news station, ‘Before we go to Europe, Africa must take its part in liberating the people of Swaziland. We are dealing with a monarch system in Swaziland, therefore, democracy is not going to be given on a silver platter. It’s not going to be easy to achieve democracy in that country we need solidarity.’

Swaziland has been condemned for many years by international freedom watchdogs. Political parties cannot contest elections and all groups, including SSN, that advocate for democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA).

In 2014 the United States withdrew trading privileges from Swaziland under the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) because the kingdom had not fulfilled all the requirements of the programme, including respect for human rights.

The US wanted Swaziland to implement the full passage of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act; full passage of amendments to the STA; full passage of amendments to the Public Order Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability to union leaders during protest actions; and establishing a code of conduct for the police during public protests. 

Amnesty International in April 2015 renewed its criticism of Swaziland for the ‘continued persecution of peaceful political opponents and critics’ by the King and his authorities.
The human rights organisation called for both the STA and the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSAA) to be scrapped or drastically rewritten.

It said the Swazi authorities were using the Acts, ‘to intimidate activists, further entrench political exclusion and to restrict the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.’

The one-day conference is hosted by the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), probably the best-known of the pro-democracy organisations in Swaziland. It is also banned under the STA. PUDEMO invited a number of organizations based in South Africa and internationally, among others the South Africa Communist Party, the trade union federation, COSATU, and the African National Congress (ANC).

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Friday, July 7, 2017


Rape victims in Swaziland say their plight is not being treated seriously by police and often they are simply dropped off at hospital and made to find their own help.

This comes at a time when there have been 1,082 rapes reported in Swaziland since 2015. Swaziland is said to have the fourth highest rate of rape in the world.

The trauma associated with reporting a rape case is causing some people to turn back and deal with their ordeal on their own, local media reported.

A nurse at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital told the Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland (2 July 2017). ‘Children, even adults, leave after waiting for assistance for hours and I cannot say I blame them.’

The newspaper detailed one rape victim who reported her case to police and was taken to hospital wo hours later.

The newspaper reported, ‘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?’

According to the National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula 1,082 rape cases were reported in Swaziland since 2015. He told a gender based violence campaign organised by the Catholic Church Commission for Justice and Peace (Caritas) in Hlatikulu on 1 July 2017 rape could be tackled by doing away with apathy and the culture of silence which fuelled such crimes.

Rape is common in Swaziland and often goes unreported. Rape of a wife by her husband is legal in Swaziland under Indigenous Swazi Law and Custom. A man can also legally rape his lover. This is contained in a document called The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2013) compiled by Professor Frances Pieter Whelpton, a Professor of Law at the University of South Africa and delivered to King Mswati III.

The Times of Swaziland reported (3 August 2016) , ‘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 2015, a report from A US organisation ABCNewspoint stated that Swaziland had the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. It said there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among 100,000 people.

Rape and sexual abuse of children is common in Swaziland. In 2008, 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.

Many men in Swaziland believed was all right to rape children if their own wives were not giving them enough sex. In 2009, 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.’

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