Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Swaziland police kill another unarmed man reviving fears of shoot-to-kill policy

Police in Swaziland (eSwatini) shot and killed a man while they were searching for an alleged rapist.

It was the latest in a long line of shootings in the kingdom where observers say police have a shoot-to-kill policy regarding crime suspects.

Simanga Mpila, aged 25, reportedly tried to block police officers as they searched for the suspect.

It happened near Sidvwashini, the Times of eSwatini reported. Three police officers arrived to arrest the alleged rapist. They could not find him but Mpila, described as a friend of the man they were seeking, was there.

The unarmed man was shot during a scuffle with police. He later died at Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital.

Police confirmed the shooting.

Police in Swaziland have a long history of killing. In January 2020 officers shot a man with  epilepsy in the neck at close range killing him after his family had called police to help transport him to hospital for treatment. The killing happened in front of the family and neighbours.

In July 2019 police were criticised in local media for shooting dead three men who escaped from Big Bend Correctional Facility. They were hiding in a rondavel in a homestead at Manyeveni, near Mpaka. 

There is evidence that police in Swaziland routinely ‘shoot-to-kill’ suspects. In July 2018 at least 30 officers shot and killed a man as he fled after they had stormed his home at Matsebula. 

This was not an isolated incident in Swaziland where police across the kingdom have a growing record of killing or maiming suspects before arrest. The cases have largely gone unreported outside of the kingdom itself.

In 2012 police shot a 34-year-old mentally disturbed man seven times, killing him. They had been called to a disturbance at his home at Lubulini. The man’s family said they had trouble controlling him and asked for police assistance in getting him to a hospital.

In one example, police executed a suspect Thabani Mafutha Dlamini at Nkwalini in Hlatikulu in the presence of his colleagues and home boys in what local media called ‘cowboy style’. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported the incident in December 2011 saying, ‘Police had previously warned the mother of the dead man to “budget for funeral expenses” as they intended to remove him. He was said to be on a police “wanted list”’. Dlamini was unarmed.

In a separate case in February 2011 a Swazi policeman shot Mbongeni Masuku, described in media as a Form IV pupil, in the head in what was later described as ‘an execution-style killing’. The killing happened outside a bar in Matsapha. Masuku’s uncle Sigayoyo Maphanga said Mbongeni had been dragged out of his car by police. He told the Swazi Observer, a policeman whom he named, ‘shot my nephew at the back of the left ear and he fell on the ground with blood oozing from his mouth and ears. We were all shocked and angered by such brutality from police officers.’ 

See also

Police killing, family demand answers
‘Police execute man cowboy style’   

Police shoot surrendering man

Swazi police ‘murder’ suspect

Police ‘execute’ suspect in street

Swazi police shoot-to-kill again

Police shoot and kill mentally ill man

Police ‘shot accused rapist in head’

Police shoot-to-kill on bus

Police kill surrendering man

Swazi police shoot-to-kill

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