7 August 2017

Swaziland: Prisoners Stripped Naked, Assaulted

Prison warders in Swaziland assaulted inmates by stripping them naked and squeezing their testicles, a local newspaper reported.

It allegedly happened at Bhalekane Correctional Services.

The Swazi Observer reported (27 July 2017) a former inmate who it called Bhekani Mkhonta (not his real name) said an entire dormitory of prisoners was ordered to strip naked.

The newspaper reported, 'The officers proceeded to search their dorms for narcotics (dagga) and money. "They were wearing surgical gloves, ordered us to strip naked and face the wall as they wanted to do a strip search and they wanted things like dagga, cigarettes and money; which we thought was normal," he said. "However they then started to smack us on our buttocks," Mkhonta said, adding how this was closely followed by the use of fists.

'"I had my private parts squeezed like one does when milking a cow," he said.'

The newspaper said the alleged attack happened in early July 2017. The Observer said, 'He said he had decided to tell his story to disclose the kind of inhumane treatment inmates are subjected to, revealing that on this incident alone, some of the officers even went as far as using their own belts to lash the inmates, while demanding them to produce the narcotics they had in their possession.'

It reported Mkhonta saying, 'That lasted for about 30 minutes, we were all crying in pain, as most of us had genitals squeezed in that manner, what hurts the most is that not all of the inmates smoke, be it cigarettes or dagga yet we were all tortured.'

Mkhonta said that a week after the alleged attack, another cell was invaded in the same manner.

According to Mkhonta there was no money or narcotics found.

Correctional Services Public Relations Officer (PRO) Superintendent Gugulethu Dlamini disputed the allegations but confirmed that strip searches were normal in all correctional facilities.

It has also been alleged that warders at the jail sell drugs to inmates.

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