Thursday, October 31, 2019

Swaziland police ‘beat teenager to death to make him confess to crime he did not commit’

Community police in Swaziland (eSwatini) allegedly beat a teenager to death to make him confess to a crime he had not committed.

They used knobkerries and batons on Celumusa Dlamini, aged 17, the Times of eSwatini reported from Mahwalala.

Community police in Swaziland have a long record of illegal beatings.

In the latest case, the Times reported that Dlamini was one of six people accused by the police of robbing an elderly man. It said he was interrogated through the night and died of his injuries.

‘Knobkerries and batons were allegedly some of the objects that were used by the community police members to retrieve the truth” from the minor and the five others,’ the Times reported.

It added it later transpired that Dlamini was not part of the gang that committed the robbery.

Community police in Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch, have a long history of attacks on people. In June 2019 it was reported police at Gundvwini in the Manzini region illegally forced a six-year-old boy to strip and then thrashed him on the naked buttocks after he was accused of stealing a cellphone from a schoolteacher. 

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time the boy’s aunt said the boy he had been taken to the mountains and had his private parts squeezed before being ordered to undress. After undressing, he was allegedly thrashed a number of times with a stick on his bare buttocks.

The community police operate in rural Swaziland and are supervised by traditional chiefs who are local representatives of King Mswati. They have the authority to arrest suspects concerning minor offences for trial by an inner council within the chiefdom. For serious offences suspects should be handed over to the official police for further investigations.

There have been a number of cases reported by media in Swaziland where community police have acted illegally. In June 2018 five community police officers at Ngoloweni in Sandleni attacked a man described as ‘mentally disturbed’ and beat him close to death and set his genitals on fire. 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 beat man close to death
Police gang-rape schoolgirl

Community police banish gay men

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