23 February 2018

Swaziland: 'Chief Unleashes Drunken Militia'

A chief in Swaziland has been accused of unleashing 'an army of drunken militia' to beat up a group of community leaders.

Chief Ndlaluhlaza of Bulandzeni did this to stop a dispute among his subjects, the Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland reported (17 February 2018).

The newspaper reported, 'The group of militia said to be from Buhlebuyeza Royal Kraal and were imbibing on alcohol, hurled insults to the inner council after heavily assaulting them. The chief's militia group is alleged to have also unleashed a reign of terror on residents, including the inner council leaders with their local leader Indvuna Dzingalive [Magagula], who is now nursing a broken arm.'

It said the incident was alleged to have happened in Mavula, near Sihhoye on Sunday 11 February 2018.

The Observer reported, 'The militia group came with one mandate; that of assaulting anyone who was at the gathering for blessing newly installed people, in an area reserved for small community businesses.'

It said, 'The uncompromising militia came armed with spears and wooden rods whereby they first visited the home of the indvuna at Timbondvweni, demanding to know from his wife his whereabouts.

'The militia is said to have been transported on a van belonging to the chief. After failing to get the indvuna they went for umfana wendvuna (assistant/trustee) John Magagula.'

The newspaper added, 'The militia allegedly pounced on the unsuspecting inner council and without communicating anything, started assaulting the members and others at the community gathering. They were assaulted with wooded rods and fists. It is said people ran helter skelter as the militia were baying for blood, assaulted everyone, including the elderly.

The Observer added, 'Police are alleged not to have not set foot in the area to record a statement from the people who were assaulted and injured. Even during the time when they were given the RSP [Royal Swaziland Police] forms for them to be admitted in hospital, no statements were recorded.'

In Swaziland Chiefs are the local representatives of King Mswati III who rules the impoverished kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch. The chief wields tremendous power over their subjects and can, for example, determine whether people are allowed to live in the area, or whether children can attend universities and colleges. In some cases they decide who lives and who dies as they are in charge of distributing international food aid to starving communities. About a third of the population of Swaziland receiving food aid each year.

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