Swaziland Policeman Shoots Boy, 15, Playing Football During Coronavirus Lockdown

A 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded by police in Swaziland (eSwatini) when he played football with friends on open ground during the coronavirus lockdown.

A lone policeman approached a group of boys playing football on a dusty field near Gege.

The Times of eSwatini reported their game was being watched by two adults. It said the police officer allegedly fired his weapon to disperse the spectators.

'The startled youngsters are said to have trampled on each other as they ran away, while one of the boys aged 15 reportedly sustained a serious injury after he got shot during the skirmish.

'The youngster was struck by a bullet in his left arm while running away from the police officer.' He was detained in hospital.

Police are investigating the shooting.

Swaziland has been on a partial lockdown because of coronavirus (COVID-19) since 27 March 2020. Gatherings of more than 20 people are banned and people are urged to keep a distance of one metre from one another.

The Swazi police and other security forces have been criticised for their brutality during the lockdown.

National Police Commissioner William Dlamini acknowledged the problem during a press briefing on 24 April when he said, 'We assure the nation that all security officers have been reminded that their duty is to assist, not abuse.'

There had been a number of reports of police, army and correctional service personnel beating people during lockdown.

In April security forces reportedly whipped a destitute woman in Eteni when she was on the streets desperately trying to get food for her three children.

Mbabane lawyer Sabelo 'Mngo' Mngomezulu was left with broken ribs after soldiers assaulted him, two women were whipped with sticks by police and a man was hospitalised after police beat him about the head with a baton.

An 85-year-old woman collapsed and died when security forces raided her home because they thought she was selling alcohol.

Armed military police officers also forced members of the public to do press-ups when they were found at a bus rank in Manzini during the coronavirus lockdown.

Some businesses had claimed they had been asked to pay bribes to police and army in order to remain open.

On 15 April Swazi Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini endorsed police beating people during the lockdown. He told a press briefing, 'If you are found to be violating these regulations, the law will definitely take its course, we won't compromise on this. Maybe those who were assaulted were found to be on the wrong side of the law by breaking the regulations put in place by government. We would like to encourage members of the public to abide by these regulations, there shouldn't a need for the law enforcement to force you to respect these regulations.'

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