26 October 2017

Swaziland: Ex-MP Sues for 'Jail Assault'

A former member of the Swaziland parliament is suing the kingdom's jail services, alleging he was assaulted while an inmate at a correctional facility.

Charles Myeza says officers at the Bhalekane Correctional Centre squeezed his private parts and smacked his buttocks.

He is not the first former inmate at Bhalekane to allege to have been assaulted in this way.

Myeza has filed a claim at the Swazi High Court and with another former inmate is seeking E600,000 (US$44,000) damages.

The Sunday Observer newspaper (22 October 2017) in Swaziland revealed some of the contents of Myeza's letter of demand against His Majesty's Correctional Services (HMCS), seven correctional facility employees, the Commissioner General Mzuthini Ntshangase, the National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula and the Swaziland Government.

It concerns an alleged incident at Bhalekane on 12 July 2017 at about10-11pm by law enforcement officials who raided dormitories.

The letter reads, 'As such the client was stripped naked, smacked on the buttocks and had his genitals squeezed by officers, in furtherance of a common purpose to violate the right to dignity.

'Such wrongful conduct was conducted by the officers acting in the furtherance of a common purpose with the commissioner of the Correctional Services and acting within the scope of their employment herein, the conduct herein attracts vicarious liabilities herein.'

Myeza is not the only former inmate at Bhalekane to allege being sexually abused by warders. In August 2017 the Sunday Observer reported three former inmates alleged they were stripped and had their genitals groped. One said a warder pulled the pubic hair on his testicles.

Warders were searching inmates for illegal drugs, the newspaper said.

One former inmate told the newspaper he had been kicked in the head by one of the officers. 'He kept on banging my defenceless head on the ground with his soccer boot. I begged for mercy and he told me that I do not deserve mercy since I was there (jail) to pay for the crimes I committed,' he said.

In July 2017, the newspaper reported an entire dormitory of prisoners was ordered to strip naked during a drug search.

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," [a former inmate] 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 HMCS has denied all the allegations.


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