Swaziland: Man Dies in Swaziland Police Custody, Family Alleges Suffocation

A man died after allegedly being suffocated while being questioned by police in Swaziland (eSwatini) over a theft charge.

Mandla Maziya was a security guard for Southern Star, a company contracted to transport sugar at Thabankulu. He was questioned by police after a tonne of sugar went missing.

He died in police custody after being interrogated.

His brother Nhlanhla Maziya told the Swaziland News, an online newspaper, the Swazi police would not reveal the circumstances of the death until a post mortem had been carried out.

He said another man who was also arrested by police at the time said they had been suffocated.

A police spokesman confirmed a death had taken place.

There have been numerous allegations of police torture in Swaziland in recent years. In February 2020 the Times of eSwatini reported a 20-year-old man from Moyeni received hospital treatment for 'bruises on his back, minor wounds on his waist and swollen arms' after being taken to Siteki police station and thrown into a fire.

The Times listed another four cases of 'similar incidences' including a 27-year-old man from Siteki who accused police of beating him until he wet himself.

In a separate case a 50-year-old woman from Magwanyana reported she wet herself as police thrashed her all over her body with batons.

Magistrates in Swaziland have a number of times criticised police for beating up suspects. In January 2019, Magistrate Sindisile Zwane at Mbabane said she had noticed a number of suspects came before her in court with bruises and swollen faces and other parts of their bodies.

In March 2018 Principal Magistrate at Manzini David Khumalo told police they must not beat suspects after a man appeared in court with injuries all over his body.

In June 2016 a United Nations review panel looking into human rights in Swaziland was told in a joint report by four organisations, 'In Mbabane [the Swazi capital], police tortured a 15-year-old boy after his mother had reported him for stealing E85.00 (US$6). The boy alleges that he was beaten with a slasher (metal blade tool for cutting grass) and knobkerrie [club] for five hours. While enduring the pain, he alleges that he was made to count the strokes aloud for the police to hear. Instead of being charged, the boy was physically assaulted and made to sit in a chair for thirty minutes before he was sent back home.'

The report was submitted to the United Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland by the Swaziland Multi-Media Community Network, Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations and Constituent Assembly - Swaziland.

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