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Friday, 22 September 2017


Confirmation that King Mswati III, aged 49, is to take a teenager as his latest wife shines the spotlight firmly on the King’s marital history.

His latest choice is Siphelele Mashwama, aged 19, who is the daughter of a Swaziland Cabinet minister, Jabulile Mashwama. In 2013 the King chose an 18-year-old ‘former beauty pageant contestant’ Sindiswa Dlamini as his wife. Both the teenagers are younger than some of the King’s own children.

There is some confusion as to whether King Mswati’s latest bride will be his 14th or 15th. The confusion is excusable since the number of wives the King has is considered a state secret in Swaziland and it is ‘un-Swazi’ to talk openly about the King’s polygamy.

The new bride is reported to be a graduate of Swaziland’s Waterford Kamhlaba World University College. She went with the King this week to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in the United States.

She was introduced at the annual Reed Dance where tens of thousands of women described as ‘virgins’ danced bare-breasted for the King.

King Mswati has been ridiculed outside of Swaziland for his likening of teenage women. Media in South Africa nicknamed Sindiswa Dlamini ‘naughty Sindie’.

The Sunday Sun newspaper in South Africa in 2014 reported she had affairs with two of King Mswati’s sons, Prince Majaha and Prince Bandzile, who were both in their early twenties. One unnamed source told the newspaper, ‘Sindi has dated both these boys. She’s a party girl used to having fun.’

Another informant told the Sunday Sun, ‘Sindi is no virgin. She drinks and smokes a lot and has tattoos on parts of her body I cannot mention.’
One source told the newspaper, ‘She is only doing it [marrying the King] because she comes from a poor background.’
The media in Swaziland never report about the King without his permission. This means people across the world are better informed than the King’s subjects, the Swazi people. Most media in the kingdom are under direct state control, opposition political parties are banned as ‘terrorist’ organisations and any political dissent is quickly crushed by police and the army.

In 2011, the Independent group of newspapers in South Africa reported that three of the King’s 13 queens had abandoned him since he took the throne in 1986. And more of his wives were trying to break out of the palace.

The Independent reported, ‘A royal source says some of the queens are frustrated as the King has allowed many months to pass without “visiting” them. They accuse him of seeking his pleasures outside the palace instead.’

The Independent added, ‘This comes after revelations about the recent unceremonious departure from the palace of LaDube, the King’s estranged 12th wife, after she had been accused of having a relationship with former minister of justice and constitutional affairs Ndumiso Mamba. To make matters worse, Mamba was the king’s business confidant and friend.

‘After the affair came to the King’s attention, he denied LaDube conjugal rights, according to insiders. They say he was trying to make palace life intolerable for her so that she would leave.

‘She is officially no longer part of the royal family and has been dumped at her maternal grandmother’s home in Hhohho.’

The newspaper reported, ‘LaDube was the third of Mswati’s wives to leave the palace. She followed LaMagwaza and LaHwala, who both now live in South Africa.

‘LaMagwaza was accused of having a steamy sexual relationship with a South African toy boy. Sources claimed that she was sex starved, as the King would not visit her.’

It added, ‘LaHwala was also neglected by the king who would deny her conjugal rights for six months at a time.’

See also


Thursday, 21 September 2017


A trade union drive is underway in Swaziland to recruit workers in the kingdom’s notorious textile industry.

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) has visited several factories across the kingdom.

ATUSWA’s Bongani Ndzinisa told local media that workers in the textile industry had been neglected. The Swazi Observer reported (11 September 2017), ‘He disclosed that the union had already conducted an assessment which indicated that the workers were faced with numerous challenges which affected their livelihood.

‘Ndzinisa said they were in the process of encouraging workers to join the union, after which they will be writing to the various factories to demand recognition.’

The textile industry in Swaziland which is mainly owned by Taiwanese interests has a long history of exploitation.

In July 2014 a survey of the Swaziland textile industry undertaken by the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) revealed workers were subjected to harsh and sometimes abusive conditions, many of the kingdom’s labour laws were routinely violated by employers, and union activists were targeted by employers for punishment. 

More than 90 percent of workers surveyed reported being punished by management for making errors, not meeting quotas or missing shifts. More than 70 percent of survey respondents reported witnessing verbal and physical abuse in their workplace by supervisors.

Commenting on the survey, the American labour federation AFL-CIO said, ‘Some workers reported that supervisors slap or hit workers with impunity. In one example, a worker knocked to the ground by a line manager was suspended during an investigation of the incident while the line manager continued in her job.

‘Women reported instances of sexual harassment, as well. Several workers said they or other contract (temporary) workers were offered a permanent job in exchange for sex.’

Mistreatment of workers in the textile industry in Swaziland has been known for many years and workers have staged strikes and other protests to draw attention to the situation.

In its report on human rights in Swaziland in 2013, the US State Department said wage arrears, particularly in the garment industry, were a problem. It said, ‘workers complained that wages were low and that procedures for getting sick leave approved were cumbersome in some factories. The minimum monthly wage for a skilled employee in the industry - including sewing machinists and quality checkers - was E1,128 (US$113). Minimum wage laws did not apply to the informal sector, where many workers were employed.

‘The garment sector also has a standard 48-hour workweek, but workers alleged that working overtime was compulsory because they had to meet unattainable daily and monthly production quotas.’

A damning report on Swaziland’s textile industry called Footloose Investors, Investing in the Garment Industry in Africa, was published in 2007 by SOMO – Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

It said the Swaziland Government gave companies a large number of incentives such as tax exemptions and duty free importation of raw materials. The Government also allowed companies to take all profits and dividends outside of Swaziland, which in effect meant that there was little or no investment within Swaziland from the companies.

With a change of world trading conditions, Swaziland became less attractive to foreign companies. In order to maintain profits the companies began to lobby the Government for changes in the law. The companies especially wanted laws and regulations regarding labour loosened.

SOMO concluded, ‘It seems that the public spending on building shells and infrastructure aimed at attracting foreign investment in the garment industry has not brought about much economic benefit so far.’

The report stated, ‘Companies have been asking for certain “incentives” in exchange for their continued production in the country, implying that the country owes them something for their presence.

‘One of the companies in Swaziland, for example, Tex Ray, announced its willingness to set up a textile mill but asked in return for less stringent labour laws and laws on the environment, and for the prices of electricity and water to be halved. They also felt that government should subsidise the wages.’

In September 2014 hundreds of workers at Tex Ray were affected by poisonous chemical fumes at the factory in Matsapha. Many needed hospital treatment and the factory was closed for several days. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported allegations from workers that retrenchment was a way for the company to avoid liability. The newspaper reported that other textile factories, including Kartat Investments, Kasumi and Union Industrial Washing, continued to operate.

In May 2015, it was estimated 3,000 people in the textile industry lost their jobs when the United States withdrew trading benefits under the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) because of Swaziland’s poor record on human rights which included workers’ rights.

See also


Wednesday, 20 September 2017


Poverty is forcing girls in Swaziland to drop out of school and become sex workers, according to a media report.

The girls cannot afford school fees or uniforms, so some drop out. Others stay at school but also work as prostitutes, the Times of Swaziland reported on Monday (18 September 2017).

The newspaper featured Gija Emkhuzweni High School at Piggs Peak.

The Times reported, , ‘It has been revealed that even pupils in lower classes at the school are engaging in such trade, with most of them blaming the high poverty levels as the main reason.’

It said the school was dealing with at least 30 disciplinary cases and that some of these included alleged sex work.

It added, ‘The Head teacher at the school, Sam Nxumalo said, the driving force for the alleged sex work was mainly high levels of poverty in that some of the pupils cannot afford school fees or uniform. They are then forced to resort to sex work. 

‘He said in many cases, affected pupils often live alone or with relatives who are not their biological parents but only guardians.

‘Nxumalo not only confirmed the allegations of some pupils engaging in sex work for “survival” but said it was a concern because the pupils were dropping out of school,’ the Times said.

In August 2017, the Times reported that sex workers in Piggs Peak charged as little as E30 (US$2) for their services.

In July 2017, police reported some parents in Swaziland were letting men have sex with their girl children to determine whether they want to marry them. A police spokesman said parents were exploiting the children ‘by using them as sex tools for quick marriages’.

In May 2017 it was reported that p
overty-stricken parents of girls as young as fourteen were giving them to soldiers for sex in exchange for food.  

See also


Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Swaziland’s failed democratisation
By Kenworthy News Media, 17 September 2017
The reason for the lack of democracy in the tiny absolute monarchy of Swaziland is an authoritarian reinvention of tradition, and a lack of both internal and external pressure on the regime, writes Swazi activist Bheki Dlamini, writes Kenworthy News Media.

If you are looking for books on political solutions in Swaziland in your local or university library, or in bookstores or on Amazon, you won’t find much to enlighten you.

A young Swazi activist and student of Public Administration at the University of Bergen, President of the Swaziland Youth Congress Bheki Dlamini, has tried to fill this void by writing his Master’s Thesis about “Democratization in Swaziland.”

“When doing the research for this thesis, I realized the huge void that exists in the literature about the political situation in Swaziland. Most of the writings about the political situation in Swaziland have focused on the domestic actors,” Dlamini tells me.

“My motivation was based on the ultimate legitimacy and support that the Swazi regime has received internationally, even from those external actors (USA, EU, SADC, AU) who claim to pursue democracy and human rights beyond their own borders, because I understood that the Swazi struggle cannot be isolated from the regional, continental and global trends.”

Failed to democratize
Amongst other things, the thesis focuses on the failure of Swaziland to democratize, while its neighbours, with their one-party states and others non-democratic systems, did so in the early nineties.

Unlike other African countries, whose regimes are or were based on one-party authority, military rule, or religion, Swaziland is an absolute monarchy.

Many other countries in Africa and elsewhere repealed their independence constitution and established an absolute and centralized power, Dlamini argues. The main difference was that Swaziland banned all political parties, centralized and based its regime around culture and tradition, and failed to subsequently democratize.

The thesis also focuses on the role of external and internal forces in ensuring that Swaziland will become a democracy in the future – according to Dlamini, because especially the study of the external dimension of regime transition in regard to Swaziland has been neglected.

This fact is important in properly diagnosing the struggle for democratic change in Swaziland, Dlamini writes. Because the present understanding leads those who wish to understand or help the democratic movement in Swaziland to emphasize the weakness of this movement, and not the lack of international support, in explaining why Swaziland has failed to democratize.

Divide and rule
British colonialist and settlers changed the social and political fabric of Swazi society, with an apartheid-like rural-urban divide, a land-partition that kept most of the arable land in the hands of British settlers, and a two-tier governance model. They thereby enabled the Swazi monarchy to create a royal supremacy “that is at the centre of the undemocratic nature of the regime,” Dlamini emphasises.

This was a traditional system, based on a “superficial culture carefully created by both colonialism and King Sobhuza [father of the present king Mswati], as a form of political control and for capital accumulation,” in a more classic “divide and rule”-strategy, which was employed throughout much of Africa.

“The shortage of land, because of the 1907 Land Appropriation Act, meant that land became a scarce resource,” says Dlamini. Suddenly, chiefs, who were previously judged on whether they could distribute land fairly and abundantly, realised that control over land allocation meant power.

“The alliance between traditional leaders and the colonial administration left the masses helpless, as they were now exploited by both the traditional leaders and the white settlers. This situation has not changed.”

An absolute monarchy
Today, King Mswati controls Swazi society. He appoints the Prime Minister, the government, ten MP’s and most of the senate, the Chief Justice and judges, and members of the Public Service Commission, who are responsible for recruiting civil servants. And he controls over half of Swaziland’s economy, which is based to a large extent on Swaziland’s lucrative sugar industry and mineral rights.

This he does, Dlamini points out, through the Tibiyo taka Ngwane fund, which was established to buy back land for resettlement of ordinary Swazi’s, in trust for the Swazi people. It is currently being used by the King on prestige projects, in partnership with foreign companies, and to finance his extravagant life style, however.

And there is seemingly no united opposition to challenge his rule.

Political parties are banned and divided amongst themselves, and most of the middle class in Swaziland, including some members of the democratic forces and trade union movement, “rely on the state or political networks to maintain its privilege,” and is thus “compromised by its proximity to the regime,” according to Dlamini.

Swazi’s living in the rural areas amount to about two thirds of the population, who are mostly subsistence farmers struggling to survive. They are controlled by a system that amongst other things enables chiefs, who act on behalf of the king, to evict them from their land if they cause any trouble.

Foreign friends and foes
But the fact that King Mswati pretty much runs Swaziland as a 17th century feudal manor is not only due to matters internal to Swaziland, or colonial issues from 50 years ago or more, Bheki Dlamini insists in his thesis.

“The regime is partly reproduced by the support it receives from the external actors, politically and financially. The proliferation of foreign capital into the country, and their dealings with Tibiyo and the king, helps in the reproduction of the regime,” Dlamini writes.

He names several external actors as being particularly important, and able to influence Swaziland’s stagnant democratisation process.

85 percent of Swaziland’s imports and 60 percent of its exports come from neighbouring South Africa, whose ruling party have historical economic interests in Swaziland, including a partnership with Mswati in the mining industry. The ANC government may be supportive of democracy in Swaziland, and pass resolutions to this extent, but “has not done anything to pressurize Swaziland.”

The Southern African Customs Union, which Swaziland has relied on since independence in 1968, for a large part of its revenues, the Southern African Development Community, which Mswati chaired last year, and the African Union have not done much to pressurize the regime either.

The EU, one of Swaziland biggest trading partners, “has publically condemned the authoritarian regime in Swaziland” but this ”does not transcend into action” through e.g. demands that Swaziland live up to the dictates of the Cotonou Trade Agreement with the EU, that includes matters of human rights observance and good governance.

“Our task is to engage, ‘put pressure’ is not the right word … I believe in constructive engagement from all levels … in order to promote dialogue on democracy … the Swazi people should not think that the EU is here to solve their problems,” as the EU ambassador – interviewed by Dlamini – put it.
The UK, Swaziland’s former colonial power, “is not doing much in Swaziland since it closed its High Commission office in 2005 … for economic reasons.”

Besides trying to broker negotiations between the democratic movement and Mswati, the Commonwealth, of which Swaziland is a member, “has done nothing to promote democracy in Swaziland.

The USA, a big donor and trade partner, has condemned Swaziland’s lack of democracy and poor human rights record and actually acted on this in removing Swaziland from the list of beneficiaries of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2015 for human “rights abuses.” The USA has also supported arrested pro-democracy activists.

Observer mission reports from the African Union, EU and the Commonwealth have declared Swazi elections not free and fair, unlike SADC.

Walk the walk
But the fact that Swaziland’s trade partners and other external actors may play a positive role in the democratisation of Swaziland by pressurising Mswati’s regime through trade and aid is clear, just look at Malawi and Zambia in the early 1990s, and Swaziland to a degree 20-odd years later, says Dlamini.

“The wave of protests in 2011 and 2012 in Swaziland [calling for democratic change] was a direct response to the reduction of government revenue coming from SACU … and only last year, Swaziland lost preferential trade (through AGOA) with the USA for failure to respect human rights.”

Swaziland subsequently unbanned trade union federation TUCOSWA, is now looking into amending one of the main offending laws in regard to AGOA, the Suppression of Terrorism Act – an act that Amnesty International has called “inherently repressive.”

“Political pressure would compel the regime to consider democratisation,” especially if the international community focused more squarely on the critical questions of unbanning political parties and multi-party democracy, although the external actors need to coordinate their actions better, to be effective, says Bheki Dlamini.

For this political pressure to materialise, solidarity movements around the world will have to pressurize governments and companies that prop up Mswati’s regime, as well as mobilise financial resources for the democratic movement in Swaziland.

Like solidarity organisations Afrika Kontakt in ACTSA, who support civic education and advocacy work in Swaziland, or the Danish International Development Agency, who support political parties PUDEMO and SWADEPA.

Democracy begins at home
Because however much external forces can and may help democratise Swaziland, the main push must come from Swaziland’s democratic movement and mass mobilisation.

“Democracy cannot be embedded without the democratic forces growing strong inside the country. External forces cannot create these forces where they do not exist. Democracy cannot be imported from abroad, but the internal actors need solidarity from the external in pursuit of democracy,” as Dlamini writes.

And here, Bheki Dlamini – who has himself been tortured, imprisoned and exiled by the regime for his role in Swaziland’s democratic movement – has a message for his colleagues and comrades in Swaziland’s democratic movement: stop the disunity, infights and antagonism, and bring people in the rural areas on board, if you want to defeat the regime and bring about democracy.

“Presently, the democratic forces and divided amongst themselves. Their power base is mainly in the urban areas, and they are weak in the rural areas where the great majority of the people reside. The rural people take the brunt of the repression and exploitation of the regime. It is therefore central to mobilize these magnitudes if the building of democracy from below is to be realized.”

Download the thesis here
See also

Monday, 18 September 2017


Some people in Swaziland are so hungry they willingly eat dog food, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.

It came after residents looted a van full of dog food that overturned on the Manzini – Mbabane highway.

It was not an isolated incident, Ackel Zwane, an opinion columnist in the Swazi Observer wrote on Friday (15 September 2017). He wrote, ‘The reasons are simple because people are so poor and desperate they will consume anything that would not kill them.’

Zwane gave an insight into how hungry people in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch are. Seven in ten of his 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

He wrote that people pretend ‘to be collecting bones or food remains for their dogs back home when in fact that is a lie, they were collecting the leftovers to feed their loved ones’.

Zwane who writes for a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati wrote, ‘This practice is even common in cocktails, garden parties or state banquets where top government officials fill the boot and vans of their vehicles with leftover food all in the guise that they are taking them to their dogs.’

Many people attend cultural events in Swaziland because free food is on offer, he wrote.

‘Just watch the stampede each time the governor of Ludzidzini Royal Residence announces that the King invites the nation for a meal especially during national events, it is as if people were having their only meal to last a lifetime.’

Hunger is widespread in Swaziland. In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people in Swaziland were in need of food assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in Swaziland are thought to be OVCs.
It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five. 

Meanwhile, the King lives a lavish lifestyle. At his 49th birthday party in April 2017, media in Swaziland reported that it took three months to prepare his cake.

The Times of Swaziland the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where reporting about the King is severely restricted, said at the time, ‘All eyes were on the cake that was beautifully displayed in the front during the garden party at His Majesty’s birthday celebration. Most people were asking themselves how much time it took the bakers to prepare the cake. The company has always made it a point that it prepares a beautiful cake every year for His Majesty’s birthday celebrations.’

The Swazi Observer said, ‘The purple and cream white cake was set on a gold stand that connected the 49 pieces to make it one and the artistic look was finished off with a gold lion shaped piece.’

King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle with at least 13 palaces, a fleet of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMW cars. He is soon to take delivery of a second private jet. 

The people of Swaziland have been left hungry for many years and the problem seems to be getting worse.

In October 2014, the Office of the Swaziland Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini reported that 223,249 people were estimated to require interventions aimed at maintaining their livelihood and at least 67,592 of the Swazi population required immediate food assistance. This was contained in a report from the kingdom’s Vulnerability Assessment Committee.

Earlier in 2014, the Global Hunger Index report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) revealed the proportion of people who were undernourished more than doubled in Swaziland since 2004-2006 and in 2011-2013 was 35.8 percent of the kingdom’s population or about 455,000 people.

IFPRI reported that since 1990, life expectancy in Swaziland fell by ten years, amounting to only 49 years in 2012.

IFPRI defines undernourishment as an inadequate intake of food - in terms of either quantity or quality.

The reports underscore numerous previous surveys demonstrating the state of hunger in the kingdom.
In 2012, three separate reports from the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies all concluded the Swazi Government was largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing number of Swazis who had to skip meals.

The reports listed low growth levels, government wastefulness and corruption, and lack of democracy and accountability as some of the main reasons for the economic downturn that led to an increasing number of hungry Swazis.

Poverty is so grinding in Swaziland that some people, close to starvation, are forced to eat cow dung in order to fill their stomachs before they can take ARV drugs to treat their HIV status.  In 2011, newspapers in Swaziland reported the case of a woman who was forced to take this drastic action. Once the news went global, supporters of King Mswati denounced the report as lies. 

In July 2012, Nkululeko Mbhamali, Member of Parliament for Matsanjeni North, said people in the Swaziland lowveld area had died of hunger at Tikhuba.

See also



Sunday, 17 September 2017


Administration staff at Swaziland’s Institute of Development Management say they have been victimised because they want to join a trade union.

It came after they failed to resolve continuing issues with management and decided to join the Swaziland Union of Non-Academic Staff for Higher Institutions (SUNASHI).

According to a report in the Sunday Observer (10 September 2017), ‘However, their decision has landed the members of staff on a collision course with management, who have instituted disciplinary hearings against 10 of the members who have attempted to join the union.’

The newspaper said according to one of the employees at IDM, staff members tried three times to get the union to address them before management called them to a disciplinary hearing, ‘and threatened to fire them for joining and holding meetings with the said union’.

He said, ‘The actions of IDM intimidate the employees to continue working in harsh, unfavourable and oppressing conditions. At this point they are between a rock and a stone, management refuses to hear them and refuses to allow them representation.’

In 2015, Swaziland was named as one of the ten worst countries for working people in the world, in a report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). 

The kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, was grouped alongside some of the worst human rights violators in the world, including Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The report called The World’s Worst Countries for Workers, reviewed the conditions workers faced during the previous year. Among the worst cases in Swaziland the ITUC reported on the strike at the Maloma Mine which is partly owned by King Mswati.

It reported, ‘Some 250 workers went on strike on 24 November [2014], after the mine management refused to negotiate over a US$72 housing allowance with the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA). All legal requirements were observed by the striking workers, and even though the strike was peaceful, the workers were surrounded by police equipped with riot shields, protective headgear, guns and teargas.

‘During the strike, management refused the workers access to water, toilets and medical facilities. Chancellor House, the investment arm of the ANC, owns 75 percent of the Maloma mine, with the remaining 25 percent owned by the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, a fund controlled by King Mswati III, who is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchs.’

Separately in 2015, the International Labour Organization (ILO) told Swaziland it must stop interfering in the activities of trade unions; ensure workers’ organizations were fully assured of their rights and ensure they had the autonomy and independence they needed to represent workers.

The ILO urged the Swaziland Government ‘without further delay’ among other matters to:
Ensure all workers’ and employers’ organizations in the country are fully assured their freedom of association rights.

Ensure organizations are given the autonomy and independence they need and fulfil their mandate and represent their constituents. The Government should refrain from all acts of interference in the activities of trade unions; 

Investigate arbitrary interference by police in lawful, peaceful and legitimate trade union activities and hold accountable those responsible.

See also



The family of the man who was killed at point blank range in ‘cowboy style’ by Swaziland police are calling for an inquiry. 

They say Siboniso Brian Mdluli (22), was assassinated by trigger happy police officers for no apparent reason, according to a local media report.

On 21 August 2017 a newspaper in Swaziland reported, ‘It is believed he died as a result of excessive bleeding. It is said police riddled him with bullets as he was fleeing while they were trying to arrest him.’

It happened when police raided the home of Mdluli’s girlfriend. They were searching for him in connection to an alleged armed robbery and illegal possession of a firearm.  

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (12 September 2017), ‘The family members have a strong feeling that their son was not incidentally killed, but he was assassinated by the same police officers who arrived at the girlfriend’s rented house.’

It added, ‘It is unclear as to why the police opened fire other than claims that Mdluli was escaping from lawful arrest, but another version was that he was shot at close range. 

‘After the fatal shot, it is said Siboniso died and his body was found the following morning.’

The Observer reported, ‘The family also believes the killing of their son was deliberate as they (police) did not make any attempt to find out what happened after the fatal bullet hit the target but they decided to leave, only for the deceased to be found by residents at a neighbour’s yard.’
It added, ‘The deceased’s uncle Thulani Mbuyisa said as a family they need an explanation as to why the police brutally killed their son. 

‘He said the family was still in pain as they were not expecting such a thing to happen and such brutality by police was a tip of an iceberg as it was now clear that many innocent lives have been lost as a result of police being trigger happy. 

‘“They (police) assassinated him and that is a fact and we do not want to believe Siboniso, young as he was, could overcome armed police officers.”’

The newspaper added, ‘He said even after the body was found, when searched, no firearm or any live round of ammunition were found except for E15.10 which was found in the pair of jeans he was wearing.’

Swazi police have a long history of shooting civilians in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In November 2015 they shot a man at close range after he overturned rubbish bins and then ran away from them. The Times of Swaziland, reported at the time that a 21-year-old man had been suspected of throwing rubbish in the road and pelting vehicles with stones. The newspaper said, ‘he was shot by police at close range after refusing to board their vehicle’.

In October 2015 police fired guns and teargas at workers engaged in a legitimate protest against employment conditions at the Zheng Yong Garment factory in Nhlangano. 

A plain-clothed policeman shot an unarmed man in the back killing him while on a public bus in February 2014. The man had allegedly stolen some copper wire before boarding the bus, travelling from Siteki, in eastern Swaziland to Manzini. The Times Sunday newspaper reported at the time the driver of the bus Majahonke Zikalala said, ‘the man was attempting to force his way out of the bus, the police officer shot him in the back, near the spine… the man fell on the floor after which he was handcuffed while he bled’. He died of his injures at the scene.

In March 2013, Swaziland police shot a man dead in front of his 11-year-old child as he held his hands up in an attempt to surrender to them. Thokozani Mngometulu, aged 31, was killed as he got out of his car at his homestead in Dlakadla, in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland. Thokozani’s family, who also witnessed the killing, say he was shot in the pelvis at close range by a police officer.

In June 2012, a serial rapist suspect Bhekinkhosi Masina, popularly known as Scarface, was shot by police as they cornered him for arrest. Police say they only shot him in the thigh and he unexpectedly died of his injuries. The Times of Swaziland newspaper later revealed he had been shot six times, including in the head and back.

In July 2012, a mentally ill man, Mduduzi Mngometulu, aged 34,
was shot seven times by police and died of his injuries. He had four holes in his stomach, one in the leg and two bullet wounds on the left side of his chest.

These are not isolated incidents in Swaziland where police across the kingdom have a growing record of killing or maiming suspects before arrest. The cases have largely gone unreported outside of the kingdom itself.

In one example, police executed a suspect, Thabani Mafutha Dlamini, at Nkwalini in Hlatikulu in the presence of his colleagues and home boys
in what local media called ‘cowboy style’. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported the incident in December 2011 saying, ‘Police had previously warned the mother of the dead man to “budget for funeral expenses” as they intended to remove him. He was said to be on a police “wanted list”’. Dlamini was unarmed.

In a separate case in February 2011, a Swazi policeman shot Mbongeni Masuku, described in media as a Form IV pupil, in the head in what was later described as
‘an execution-style killing’. The killing happened outside a bar in Matsapha, an industrial town in Swaziland. Masuku’s uncle Sigayoyo Maphanga said Mbongeni had been dragged out of his car by police. He told the Swazi Observer, a policeman whom he named, ‘shot my nephew at the back of the left ear and he fell on the ground with blood oozing from his mouth and ears. We were all shocked and angered by such brutality from police officers.’ 

In May 2011, Mathende Matfonsi was shot dead by police while he was attending a field of dagga (marijuana) inside the remote forests of Lomahasha near the border with Mozambique. His family accused the police of ‘cold-blooded murder’. Matfonsi was shot dead at Ebhandeni, the same area where Nkosinathi Khathwane had previously been shot dead by soldiers at night.

In March 2010, police
shot a man as he was trying to surrender to them. This time the victim, Mncedisi Mamba, did not die. His mother Thoko Gamedze said Mamba had his hands up and was surrendering to police, but they shot him anyway.

It is not only crime suspects who get shot at. In June 2013, police
fired live bullets and teargas as children protested against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini Police were called after school pupils boycotted classes.

See also