Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Swaziland armed police, army intimidate people to obey coronavirus lockdown. Woman, 85, dies

Armed military police officers in Swaziland (eSwatini) forced members of the public to do press-ups when they were found at a bus rank during the present coronavirus lockdown.

Separately, an 85-year-old woman collapsed and died when security forces raided her home.

These are two of a number of cases being reported in media in Swaziland about intimidation by police, army and other security personnel. A 20-day partial lockdown of the kingdom started on 27 March 2020.

The military police were at the bus rank in Manzini, the kingdom’s main commercial city, on Monday (6 April 2020). Public buses are restricted to early morning and late afternoon and were not running at the time of the incident.

The Times of eSwatini reported eyewitnesses saw the police ordering people to leave because buses were not operating. ‘Others were ordered to do push-ups in full view of the people present, including vendors. They alleged that this was after the men failed to give the military police satisfactory answers on why they were at the bus rank at that time,’ the Times reported.

It added, ‘As the men did the push ups with fists on the tarred bus rank surface, the witnesses said some people used their mobile phones to take pictures and videos. They said their actions landed them in trouble and the military men ordered them to delete the pictures and videos before joining those who were doing the push-ups.’

Elsewhere, An 85-year-old woman collapsed and died at her home on the outskirts of the Swazi capital Mbabane when police and correctional services forces raided her home.

The eSwatini News reported that the woman sold alcoholic beverages for a living. Bars have been closed during the present coronavirus lockdown.  

The woman’s son said three police officers and about four Correctional Services officers arrived on Thursday (2 April 2020) just when he and his mother had locked themselves inside their separate flats and were preparing for bed. He heard banging on doors but thought it might be customers looking for alcohol.

He then realised they were police. He told the News,  ‘They also threatened to arrest me and I could hear that they were slapping some people and even ordering them to tell the truth.’

The woman collapsed and died. Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer Inspector Nosipho Mnguni confirmed the incident.

On Sunday police ‘invaded and forcefully closed’ two churches in Mbabane during services, according to the Times of eSwatini. Regulations ban gatherings of more than 20 people.

Separately, Lawyers for Human Rights in Swaziland has urged police and other security personnel not to mistreat businesspeople and the public during the lockdown. It came after reports from all regions of Swaziland that they were harassing and assaulting people in order to enforce the lockdown regulations.

Some businesses previously claimed they were being asked to pay bribes to police and army in order to remain open.

Police were also reportedly stopping people on the streets of Mbabane and demanding proof of residence.

See also

King puts Swaziland into partial lockdown in bid to beat coronavirus. Army and police on standby

More businesses in Swaziland to close as Govt tightens coronavirus lockdown

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