Swaziland Court Threatens Jail to Man Who Wore His Shorts in 'Sagging' Style

A court in Swaziland / eSwatini sentenced a man to five months in jail with the option of a fine because he allowed his shorts to slip down over his buttocks and expose his underwear in the fashion style known as 'sagging'.

Mbuyave Maziya, aged 24, was found guilty of breaking the Urban Areas Act.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, reported on Friday (1 February 2019) Maziya from Mankayane was stopped by a police officer when he was out with his mother.

The newspaper reported he said, 'I was wearing my sagged shorts and vest and the officer demanded that I pull my pants up.'

The Times added Maziya said he was a young man who expressed himself through his fashion sense and music and he was also a rapper.

He was sentenced to five months imprisonment with a fine option of E500 by Mankayane National Court. In Swaziland seven in ten of the 1.2 million population have incomes less than E25 per day.

This was not the first time in Swaziland that people have been victimised because of personal choices they made.

In October 2017 it was reported people had been refused national identity cards because of their hairstyles. It happened at a time when schoolchildren across the kingdom queued for IDs following a new rule that they had to have them to sit examinations.

The Swazi Observer reported at the time officials at BMD [registration] offices refused to take photographs of applicants they considered had inappropriate hairstyles.

The newspaper said, 'They said they were told by one of the officers that if they had hairstyles, they had to fix them and return to the BMD offices with their natural hairstyles.'

One boy interviewed by the newspaper had a Mohawk hairstyle.

In a separate case, at the national election in 2013 Mana Mavimbela, aged 18, drew international attention when she tried to have herself nominated to stand in the primary election for the House of Assembly. The official presiding officer, employed by the Elections and Boundaries Commission, refused to allow her to do so because she was dressed in jeans.

Mavimbela was not the only woman discriminated against at the nominations because she was wearing pants. Fakazile Luhlanga of Ndvwabangeni in the Mhlangatane constituency was also not allowed permission to nominate a candidate as she was wearing cargo pants.

Local media reported Luhlanga saying she was told that she was dressed like a man and would be a bad influence to the community members as they would want to emulate her.

Some chiefs across Swaziland imposed a ban on women wearing trousers, shorts or mini-skirts at nomination centres. Chief Petros Dvuba of Mpolonjeni in Mbabane, the kingdom's capital, said people who would be going to the nominations should dress properly and show respect as it was King Mswati III's exercise. He told local media, 'Even those who have relaxed hair should cover their heads when going to that place.'

In a separate incident away from the election, Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkhatswa, chief of Lwandle in Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland, reportedly stripped a woman of her clothing in the middle of a street in full view of the public because she was wearing trousers.

Also, three women in Dvokolwako in Swaziland were summoned by 'traditional authorities' for wearing trousers after elders in the area had banned them. One woman said someone reported her after she was spotted wearing jeans as she was walking to the shops. Another woman was said to be wearing pants at her home when she was charged.

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