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Reality of Swazi Police Brutality

category southern africa | crime prison and punishment | non-anarchist press author Friday May 16, 2008 17:22author by Swazi Media Commentary Report this post to the editors

Evidence of the casual brutality Swazi police use against people suspected of crime was reported yesterday (15 May 2008).

Evidence of the casual brutality Swazi police use against people suspected of crime was reported yesterday (15 May 2008).

A 21-year-old man told magistrates how police brutally assaulted him in the cells, with officers taking turns to beat him with whatever they could lay their hands on. One hit him on the head with a hammer.

In a news report that told more about what it is really like to live in Swaziland than the newspaper probably intended, the Times of Swaziland told the story of four youths who appeared in court for allegedly breaking into the Mbabane Police Mess and stealing alcohol.

In a report headed Youth tortured by investigating officers, the Times said that police, acting on a tip-off raided the homes of the alleged criminals.

The Times reported one suspect saying that he was woken at home in the middle of the night by a loud bang at the door.

A police officer kicked the door to force entry and then pointed a gun in the face of the suspect 'threatening to shoot in the process'.

The Times reported the suspect saying, 'I was staring death in the face, and what was most threatening is that I could not make up of what on earth could I have done to provoke the stranger before me.'

The police then forced the suspect out of bed and took him to the police station, dressed only in his underwear.

In the holding cell 'he experienced the worst of brutality, with the officers taking turns to beat him with whatever they could lay their hands on'.

The Times reported, 'He said although he could not remember all the assortment of gadgets that were used to hit him, he still remembered being bludgeoned in the head with a hammer.

'I almost lost consciousness and the injuries I sustained led to one officer taking me to hospital, where I was attended to by a doctor,' the Times reported the suspect saying.

The allegations of the suspect were corroborated by the other suspects 'who alluded having received death threats while the sleuths were trying to extract information,' the Times reported.

The suspect told the court, 'At one point I was told that I would be taken to kaMabhala [a thick bush in the outskirts of the capital city], where my return would only be guaranteed by a confession that I participated in the break-in at the police mess.'

The Times reported another suspect who told the court that during his interrogation, 'he became the victim of the infamous "tubing" (an unorthodox method allegedly employed by cops to force confession, whereby a plastic bag is used to cover the suspect's face to asphyxiate him).'

The Times journalist who wrote the report seems to have realised that there was more to this story than simply the report of a court case, making reference to the African Commission on People and Human Rights that is presently taking place in Swaziland.

Delegates heard that Swaziland is a major violator of human rights. This is undoubtedly true and the Swazi police are among the biggest violators. It was only this March (2008) that they showed their true colours as the brutally attacked textile workers who were lawfully striking for higher wages and better working conditions.

Despite condemnations of the police action by the Swazi Prime Minister, I have heard of no action being taken against the officers who were acting unlawfully.

I doubt either, that we will hear any more about the Mbabane police who allegedly made the attack on the youths in the Times' report.

Truly, in Swaziland the police are a law unto themselves.


See also:
Swazi Union Aids Attacked Workers

Related Link: http://www.swazimedia.blogspot.com
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