Police in Swaziland (eSwatini) have once again reportedly assaulted people for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules.
Police reportedly fired a shot and severely kicked and punched residents at Murray Camp, outside the main commercial city Manzini. A shot was fired at a woman but missed.
It is one of a series of reports in Swaziland of police and security forces’ brutality against ordinary people during the partial lockdown that has been in place since March 2020.
In the latest case the eSwatini Observer quoted witnesses who said police broke up a group who were drinking alcohol outside a homestead. It happened on Saturday (1 August 2020) at about 4 pm.
A police officer who was not in uniform questioned the
group and when they did not give him the answer he wanted he slapped one of
them. The officer then kicked a man several times in the stomach.
The newspaper reported, ‘Meanwhile, other police officers, some of whom were in uniform, approached and some of them reportedly joined in the attack against the residents.’
Later the police tried to take a phone from a woman because they thought she was recording their actions. They also kicked her in the stomach. She needed hospital treatment.
The newspaper reported, ‘When she had her back turned, an officer fired a shot but missed her and soon thereafter he placed the hot gun on her back.’
Police chased the woman to her home where one male officer stripped her half-naked while he hurled insults at her, the Observer reported.
‘All six police officers reportedly took turns kicking her on her stomach and abdomen. She and three others were taken to the Fairview Police Post where they were made to pay E260 each for supposedly breaking COVID-19 regulations and obstructing the police while on duty before being released,’ the newspaper reported.
The Observer reported a community policeman only identified as Khoza introduced himself to the police and asked what was going on. ‘I was insulted, kicked, slapped and degraded in front of everyone here,’ Khoza said.
Police later denied the attack.
There have been a number of attacks by police and security forces on people allegedly breaking lockdown rules.
On 15 April Swazi Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini endorsed police beating people during the 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.’
A 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded by police when he played football with friends on a dusty field near Gege. The Times of eSwatini reported their game was being watched by two adults. It said the police officer allegedly fired his weapon to disperse the spectators.
The Times reported, ‘The startled youngsters are said to have trampled on each other as they ran away, while one of the boys aged 15 reportedly sustained a serious injury after he got shot during the skirmish.
‘The youngster was struck by a bullet in his left arm while running away from the police officer.’ He was detained in hospital.
In April security forces reportedly whipped a destitute woman in Eteni when she was on the streets desperately trying to get food for her three children.
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.
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.
Swaziland policeman shoots boy, 15, playing football during coronavirus lockdown
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
Swaziland security forces whip destitute woman searching for food during coronavirus lockdown