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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

POLICE KILL SUSPECT ‘IN COLD BLOOD’


Swazi police have been accused of killing a serial rapist suspect in cold blood.

The controversy surrounds the death of Bhekinkhosi Masina, who has been dubbed “Scarface” by police and media in Swaziland. He allegedlyraped more than 13 women and children women during the past year. 

Last week police cornered Masina and shot him in the thigh and he died of his injuries. Police say he was trying to escape; they used minimal force and did not want to kill him. 

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said in a statement. ‘This is an outrageous lie.’

It added, ‘What happened the day Masina died is that they encircled his hideout so that he would not be able to flee. When he found out that he had been cornered, he might have attempted to flee, only to find himself face to face with more police officers.’

Masina’s family told media in Swaziland that they were suspicious of the police’s explanation because they had not been allowed to view his whole body. When they went to identify him, they were only allowed to see his face.   

SSN said, ‘What we can vouch for is that all the people who have come forth with information have confirmed that Masina’s body has bullet wounds on his back. This confirms our suspicions and his grandmother’s worries, and explains why his family was not allowed to view his whole body.

‘His aunt, Jabhile Masina, could not understand why Bhekinkhosi had dirt in his mouth when she saw his body in the morgue yet police claim he was apprehended alive. No matter how much pain he was in, there is no way he could have allowed that dirt to remain in his mouth because frankly it caused him discomfort. This only points to one possibility; Masina was dragged from the floor when it was clear that he was dead, which means that police had no intention of taking him alive. Only a dead body would not bother to spit out dirt from its mouth.’

This killing is not an isolated incident in Swaziland, where police have been involved in a number of controversial shootings, leading to suspicions that they have a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy.

In May 2011 it was reported police shot dead a man who was tending his dagga field and then planted a bullet in his underwear.

In October 2010, a suspect was shot six times even though he was handcuffed. Police said he was trying to escape.

In March 2010, police shot a man in cold blood who was trying to surrender to them.

In January 2010, Swazi policeman shot dead a man and critically wounded another when they shot at a car that failed to stop when they instructed.

Also in January 2010, police gunned down three men in cold blood. A man police claimed was shot while running away from them was later found to have bullet wounds in the front of his body.

Swazi police have been criticised for having a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. They have also been involved in a number of heavy-handed attacks on members of the public, including shooting a nine-year-old girl during a teachers’ strike, and shooting near school children.

See also

SWAZI POLICE AND DEADLY FORCE

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