Community police officers in Swaziland (eSwatini) paraded naked five suspected thieves and severely beat them on their buttocks. At least two needed hospital treatment.
It happened at KaMasuku and is the latest example of how local police disregard the law.
The Times of eSwatini reported Mpolonjeni community police made a widespread search looking for stolen vehicle parts. The suspects were removed from their homes in the early hours.
It reported one of the community police officers Menzi Maseko saying, 'We were just fed up as a community and wanted to send a clear message to criminals as we are approaching the festive season.'
The Times added, 'They warned anyone who would be tempted to commit crime in the area not to dare try as they were on the lookout and ready for war.'
The community police operate in rural Swaziland and are supervised by traditional chiefs who are local representatives of the absolute monarch, King Mswati III. They have the authority to arrest suspects concerning minor offences for trial by an inner council within the chiefdom. For serious offences suspects should be handed over to the official police for further investigations.
Community police in Swaziland have a long history of attacks on people.
In October 2019 it was reported community police at Mahwalala allegedly beat a teenager to death to make him confess to a crime he had not committed. He was one of six people accused by the police of robbing an elderly man. It said he was interrogated through the night and died of his injuries.
In June 2019 it was reported community police at Gundvwini in the Manzini region illegally forced a six-year-old boy to strip and then thrashed him on the naked buttocks after he was accused of stealing a cellphone from a schoolteacher.
In June 2018 five community police officers at Ngoloweni in Sandleni attacked a man described as 'mentally disturbed' and beat him close to death and set his genitals on fire. They suspected the 44-year-old man had attempted to rape a girl aged six.