9 February 2018

Swaziland: More Crime Fears in Swaziland

Residents in Swaziland are being attacked in their own homes, a local newspaper reported.

The Swazi Observer said on Wednesday (7 February 2018) that criminals were 'brazenly attacking residents in their own houses in suburbs'.

It reported on two break-ins in Coates Valley, Manzini where thieves attacked a family with bush-knives. A local security company has issued a warning urging residents to stay alert.

The Observer reported, 'Some members of the public even suggested that there is a need to engage in neighbourhood patrols in the affected areas just like it is done in South Africa. Some members of the public went to the extent of suspecting that it might be "Amabenjamin Gang" members who have since moved from Ezulwini area to terrorise Manzini residents.'

This type of crime in Swaziland is not unusual. A report published in May 2017 by the United States State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security called Swaziland's capital city Mbabane a 'critical-threat location' for crime.

Reviewing 2016, it stated street robberies were prevalent and they happened at all times of the day. Criminals usually brandished knives or machetes. Swaziland experienced violent deaths on a frequent basis. 'Some of the murders have been particularly gruesome,' the Swaziland 2017 Crime & Safety Report stated. Rapes occurred 'frequently'.

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.'

There was a 6.1 percent increase in serious crime in the kingdom in 2016 when compared to 2015, the 2016 Royal Swaziland Police Service annual report stated. The increase included murder, culpable homicide, armed robbery, car theft, house breaking and theft, robbery, illegal possessions of firearms, drugs and terrorism.

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.'


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