10 August 2017

Swaziland: Female Cop Sat On Suspect's Face

A security guard told a court in Swaziland a female policeman sat on his face and other officers assaulted him after they accused him of stealing motor parts.

Vusi Thwala of Mahamba said the officer told him, 'You will eat what you have never eaten before.'

Thwala was giving evidence before Principal Judge Qinisile Mabuza in Mbabane. He said he was accused of stealing motor parts and fuel at the Central Transport Administration (CTA) Depot in Nhlangano where he works.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Friday (4 August 2017) Thwala told the court that he was taken to a forest by the police in January 2012 where they assaulted him and ordered him to reveal where the stolen items were kept. He was choked and assaulted with kicks and stones.

Thwala was arrested but discharged for lack of evidence. He is suing the government for unlawful arrest, detention and assault. He said because of the assault he still suffers from chest pains and his left ear still troubles him.

There are numerous reports of police torture in Swaziland. In March 2017, A man accused of multiple murders told a court he was tortured by police for 11 days to force him to confess. He said he was suffocated with a tube and assaulted all over his body, resulting in many serious injuries. The alleged attack was said to have taken place at Lobamba Police Station, the Manzini Magistrates' Court was told.

In January 2017, local media reported police forced a 13-year-old boy to remove his trousers and flogged him with a sjambok, to make him confess to stealing a mobile phone.

In September 2016, women were reportedly ambushed by armed police and 'brutally attacked' by police during a strike at the Plantation Forest Company, near Pigg's Peak.

In June 2016, a United Nations review panel looking into human rights in Swaziland was told in a joint report by four organisations, 'In Mbabane [the Swazi capital], police tortured a 15-year-old boy after his mother had reported him for stealing E85.00 (US$6). The boy alleges that he was beaten with a slasher (metal blade tool for cutting grass) and knobkerrie (club) for five hours. While enduring the pain, he alleges that he was made to count the strokes aloud for the police to hear. Instead of being charged, the boy was physically assaulted and made to sit in a chair for thirty minutes before he was sent back home.'

The report was submitted to the United Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland by the Swaziland Multi-Media Community Network, Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations and Constituent Assembly - Swaziland.

They also reported the case of Phumelela Mkhweli, a political activist who died after an alleged assault by police after they arrested him.

The report also stated, 'In April 2011, a 66-year-old woman was confronted by three police officers regarding the wording on her t-shirt and headscarf. The police allegedly pulled off her T-shirt, throttled her, banged her head against the wall, sexually molested her, kicked her and threw her against a police truck.

'The US Department of State reported on many allegations of torture and ill-treatment by police; including beatings and temporary suffocation using rubber tube tied around the face, nose, and mouth, or plastic bags over the head,' the report stated.

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