Saturday, April 18, 2020

Swaziland security forces whip destitute woman searching for food during coronavirus lockdown

Security forces in Swaziland (eSwatini) whipped a destitute woman as she desperately searched for food for her three children during the present coronavirus lockdown.

She was one of hundreds left without food or money as her job disappeared when King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, demanded the kingdom partially closedown.

The eSwatini News (the Saturday edition of the Times of eSwatini) reported that hunger was widespread in the Kwaluseni township because people who worked in the nearby industrial town of Matsapha had been put out of work. Many worked in Taiwanese-owned textile factories.

It reported, ‘Some residents walk about in search of green edible weed (imbuya) just to live another day.’

It added, ‘The residents said their desperation had been worsened by security forces’ tough stance on enforcing the stay at home regulation.’

The News reported, ‘Gabsile Simelane, who alleged that she took lashes by a sjambok from the security forces, said she felt the government had abandoned them. 

‘“I went to ask for food from a relative and the security forces found me at Eteni and asked me why I was not at home. I explained my situation but they did not listen and gave me three strokes with a sjambok before sending me back home. That day me and my three children ate nothing,” she alleged.’

Mpumelelo Gumedze who sells roasted chicken by the roadside was forced to close his business. ‘Gumedze also alleged that he was brutally assaulted by the security forces on Monday evening when he went to meet a cousin,’ the newspaper reported.

On Wednesday (15 April 2020) Swazi Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini endorsed police beating people during the coronavirus lockdown. He told a press briefing,If you are found to be violating these regulations, the law will definitely take its course, we won’t compromise on this. Maybe those who were assaulted were found to be on the wrong side of the law by breaking the regulations put in place by government. We would like to encourage members of the public to abide by these regulations, there shouldn’t a need for the law enforcement to force you to respect these regulations.’

There have been many reports of police, army and correctional service personnel beating people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown which started on 27 March 2020.

Last week Mbabane lawyer Sabelo ‘Mngo’ Mngomezulu was left with broken ribs after soldiers assaulted him, two women were whipped with sticks by police and a man was hospitalised after police beat him about the head with a baton. 

Previously, an 85-year-old woman collapsed and died when security forces raided her home because they thought she was selling alcohol. 

Armed military police officers also forced members of the public to do press-ups when they were found at a bus rank in Manzini during the coronavirus lockdown.

Some businesses had 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

More reports of police and army violence against civilians as Swaziland coronavirus lockdown continues
Swaziland armed police, army intimidate people to obey coronavirus lockdown. Woman, 85, dies
King puts Swaziland into partial lockdown in bid to beat coronavirus. Army and police on standby

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