Sunday, September 16, 2018

Swaziland Police Whip Women Theft Suspects, Scald With Boiling Water. Two Need Hospital Treatment

Police in Swaziland are taking the law into their own hands by whipping women they suspect of stealing from shops.

It adds to growing evidence that police in the tiny kingdom (recently renamed Eswatini by absolute monarch King Mswati III) are out of control.

In the latest case four women were reportedly beaten with sjamboks [whips] and pipes and scalded with boiling water. Two of them needed hospital treatment for burns and blisters.

It happened at Siteki police station, the Swazi Observer reported on Friday (14 September 2018).

The newspaper interviewed one victim who admitted they were‘professional shoplifters’ who regularly stole from grocery shops. They would resell the goods.

The women from Mbabane operate across the kingdom and were caught stealing at a store in Siteki.

One of the women Bonsile Miya, aged 48, was reported by the Observer saying, ‘We were questioned about the theft but we refuted everything. The police bashed us with sjamboks and rubber water pipes.’ She said they were also scalded with boiling water. 

The newspaper added they were released but had to return to the police station later that day. Two of the women were so badly injured they had to be carried because they could not walk. 

She told the Observer, ‘We have committed an offence, but we do not deserve to be beaten like that. Being a thief does not mean we do not have rights.’

The Observer added, ‘Chief Police Information and Communications Officer, Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said the police were aware of these kinds of thieves but they usually arrest not beat them up.’

There are numerous reports of police assaults in Swaziland. In March 2017, A man accused of multiple murders told a court he was tortured by police for 11 days to force him to confess. He said he was suffocated with a tube and assaulted all over his body, resulting in many serious injuries. The alleged attack was said to have taken place at Lobamba Police Station, the Manzini Magistrates’ Court was told.

In January 2017, local media reported police forced a 13-year-old boy to remove his trousers and flogged him at Ngwenya police station with a sjambok, to make him confess to stealing a mobile phone. 

In September 2016, women were reportedly ambushed by armed police and ‘brutally attacked’ by police during a strike at the Plantation Forest Company, near Pigg’s Peak. 

In June 2016, a United Nations review panel looking into human rights in Swaziland was told in a joint report by four organisations, ‘In Mbabane [the Swazi capital], police tortured a 15-year-old boy after his mother had reported him for stealing E85.00 (US$6). The boy alleges that he was beaten with a slasher (metal blade tool for cutting grass) and knobkerrie [club] for five hours. While enduring the pain, he alleges that he was made to count the strokes aloud for the police to hear. Instead of being charged, the boy was physically assaulted and made to sit in a chair for thirty minutes before he was sent back home.’

The report was submitted to the United Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland by the Swaziland Multi-Media Community Network, Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations and Constituent Assembly – Swaziland.

They also reported the case of Phumelela Mkhweli, a political activist who died after an alleged assault by police after they arrested him. 

The report also stated, ‘In April 2011, a 66-year-old woman was confronted by three police officers regarding the wording on her t-shirt and headscarf. The police allegedly pulled off her T-shirt, throttled her, banged her head against the wall, sexually molested her, kicked her and threw her against a police truck.  

‘The US Department of State reported on many allegations of torture and ill-treatment by police; including beatings and temporary suffocation using rubber tube tied around the face, nose, and mouth, or plastic bags over the head,’ the report stated. 

It is not only the regular police force that assaults people. In June 2018 five community police officers at Ngoloweni in Sandleni attacked a man described as ‘mentally disturbed’ and beat him close to death. 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 Must Not Beat Suspects: Court
Brutal Police Attack Caught On Video

Police Shoot Up ‘Drink-Driver’s’ Car

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