Thursday, July 16, 2020

Medical report says Swaziland police ‘suffocated’ fraud suspect with plastic bag, kicked him

Police in Swaziland (eSwatini) allegedly assaulted a government assistant accountant during a fraud investigation by beating him with fists and putting a plastic bag over his head.

A doctor’s report from Nhlangano Health Centre on Simiso Zwane, 31, said, ‘Assaulted by Police Officers all over the body, using fists and kicks today at 1pm. Also being suffocated with plastic bag, now feeling chest pains, difficulty in breathing, dizziness and impaired hearing. Blood came out from ears.’

The Swati Newsweek website reported Zwane, an assistant accountant based at Hlutsi revenue office said, ‘I was tortured for more than five hours at Nhlangano Police Station. I was kicked and punched by five police officers including a female officer. I was suffocated by these police officers with a plastic bag.’

Police were investigating the disappearance of E90,000 cash.

Simiso Zwane’s medical record: Source: Swati Newsweek

There have been numerous reports across Swaziland about police torturing suspects during investigations. In February 2020 the Times of eSwatini reported police in Siteki allegedly threw a 20-year-old man into a fire after he allegedly assaulted a cousin. They were also reported to have put a plastic bag over his head and assaulted him with fists.

Magistrates in Swaziland have a number of times criticised police for beating up suspects. In January 2019, Magistrate Sindisile Zwane at Mbabane said she had noticed a number of suspects came before her in court with bruises and swollen faces and other parts of their bodies.

The Swazi Observer reported at the time the numbers were increasing significantly. The newspaper added she said police should be able to question people without beating them up.

In March 2018 Principal Magistrate at Manzini David Khumalo told police they must not beat suspects after a man appeared in court with injuries all over his body. 

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.

See also

Man ‘thrown into fire’ in latest case of alleged police torture in Swaziland

Police must not beat suspects: court

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