Two community police officers in Swaziland stripped a man naked, tied him to a tree and flogged his bare buttocks with sticks until they bled profusely.
It happened at Malindza after they had accused him of stealing pots from his grandfather’s house. They were helped by one of his female cousins.
This was not the first time community police have been in the spotlight for their actions. In 2014 three Malindza community police beat to death a mentally challenged man who had escaped from the National Psychiatric Centre.
The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (25 April 2018) that Dumisani Joma, aged 24, had taken a pot from his aunt’s house without consent, following a family dispute.
The newspaper reported the community policeman and his cousin later went to find him at a neighbour’s home.
It reported, ‘They accused him of stealing pots from his grandfather’s house. Joma said without being given any moment to explain his side of the story, the men and woman grabbed and forced him out of the homestead.
‘Along the way, he was tied with ropes and further stripped naked in full view of members of the public.
‘“They then took me home where I was tied against a tree before taking turns to assault me with sticks,” he said. Joma said the beating continued until he bled profusely on his buttocks.’
Sikelela Dlamini, aged 60,, Mbhodze Lukhele, aged 64, and Thantazile Mtshali, aged 21, were later each sentenced at Swazi National Court to seven months in a correctional facility with an option to pay a E700 (US$56) fine.
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 are concerns that some community police officers in Swaziland overstep their authority.
In March 2018 a court heard that three community policemen 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 2013 community police in Mvutshini banished two men from their community in Swaziland because they were gay. The men, one aged 18 and the other 21, had moved from the Lubombo region to stay with the aunt of one of them.
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.
The Weekend Observer newspaper reported at the time that some community police officers had been discovered to be involved in cattle rustling and others with stolen exhibits confiscated from thugs in the area. They were entrusted with the responsibility of taking the exhibits to the police station, but they instead kept some for personal use, a resident told the newspaper. In a third instance, another community policeman defrauded a resident of an undisclosed sum of money using the name of a police officer from Sigodvweni.
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