9 June 2017

Swaziland: Soldiers Inspect Woman's Private Parts

A woman in Swaziland has complained that soldiers at a border crossing made her remove her underwear and inspect her private parts with a mirror. The Swazi Army said it happened all the time.

The Times of Swaziland newspaper reported on Wednesday (7 June 2017) that soldiers were trying to see if she was carrying 'illegal objects'.

The newspaper reported it happened at the informal crossing situated next to the Mananga Border Gate with South Africa.

It said members of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) - the official name of the Swaziland Army - used a mirror similar to that used to inspect the underside of cars.

The Times reported, 'The woman, who asked not to be named, said they showed her a mirrored machine and asked her to take off her underwear and spread her legs so wide so that it could detect if there were any illegal objects.

'She mentioned that when she first arrived at the crossing point, some young looking soldiers asked her to enter the searching tent and take off her underwear.

The woman described herself as 'a plus size woman and quite old'.

She added, '[B]eing asked to take off my underwear by such young soldiers to stretch and show my private parts was embarrassing to me.'

She said, 'I was not amused having to hold my underwear while the soldiers did their security check that exposed my private parts," she said.

A spokesperson for the USDF told the newspaper there was nothing new with the method used by soldiers to search people crossing through the informal points. The woman had been checked by female officers, he said.

The Times reported, 'When contacted again to determine when this type of arrangement began, he did not offer much details, save to emphasise that all was done for security purposes.'

In July 2015, Swazi MP Titus Thwala reported that Swaziland soldiers beat up old ladies so badly they had to be taken to their homes in wheelbarrows. He said that elderly women were among the local residents who were regularly beaten by soldiers at informal crossing points between Swaziland and South Africa. Thwala said the soldiers made people do push ups and other exercises.

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