26 May 2017

Swaziland: Mbabane Crime Threat Critical - Report

The United States has assessed Swaziland's capital city Mbabane as a 'critical-threat location' for crime in a report just published.

Street robberies are prevalent and they happen at all times of the day. Criminals usually brandish knives or machetes. Swaziland experiences violent deaths on a frequent basis. 'Some of the murders have been particularly gruesome.' Rapes occur 'frequently'.

The report called Swaziland 2017 Crime & Safety Report from the Unites States State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security is published annually. It was updated on 8 May 2017.

On crime threats, the report stated, 'The general crime rate is above the U.S. national average. Although criminals considered Mbabane and Manzini prime grounds for operation due to the number of people, businesses, and affluent areas, the rate of crime reported in small towns and rural areas increased in 2016. There are some local crime gangs but no organized crime.

'Congested urban areas are particularly dangerous at night; and occasional daytime larceny has been reported. The presence of pedestrians should not be taken as an indication of a secure/safe environment. Suspects have found themselves pursued and beaten by by-standers.

'Residential burglary and petty theft are the most commonly reported crimes, with street robberies being the most prevalent. They occur at all locations regardless of the time. Criminals are generally interested in cell phones and cash.'

The report added, 'Criminals usually brandish edged weapons (knife, machete) and occasionally firearms and will resort to deadly force if victims resist. The general modus operandi of robbers is to target residences or businesses that have little/no security measures in place. They will use force if necessary but rely on the threat of force to commit the act.

'While the number of murders per capita remains lower than some African countries, Swaziland experiences violent deaths on a frequent basis. Some of the murders have been particularly gruesome. Victims have been found decapitated, and body parts were mutilated or removed. Some are a result of disputes among criminal groups.

'Rapes occur frequently and tend to be perpetuated on isolated/desolate urban and rural areas or roads.'

The response time of Swazi police to incidents is described as, 'slow, if at all, unless the police are in the general area where the incident occurred. Police consider a 30-minute response time adequate, even in urban areas. Police are generally willing to assist but often lack transportation and resources to properly respond to, or investigate, crimes.'

In March 2017, the Times of Swaziland reported there was a great deal of concern in neighbouring South Africa about crime in Swaziland.

The newspaper reported that Swaziland's main commercial city Manzini was considered, 'a haven for International crime kingpins who have become so sophisticated that they are supplying shops with fake cosmetics and counterfeit drugs'.

It added, 'Human trafficking is also a crime regarded as a serious problem in the country, which led to a Parliament probe being launched following a high number of nationals from Asian countries being found in the country without legal documentation while others suspected of obtaining citizenship illegally.'

The growing of dagga [marijuana] was another crime that refused to go away, the Times reported.

It added, 'These incidents suggest that there is a whole lot more criminal activity taking place than what meets the eye. As a country with one of the highest expenditure on national security, Swaziland should be a country no criminal should dare to set foot.'

In 2015, Swaziland was came bottom among 100 nations on factors that included crime rates, life expectancy and national police presence, in a survey by ValuePenguin, a New York-based global consultancy, according to a report in the Observer on Saturday newspaper.

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