Four potential army recruits in Swaziland were tortured for about 90 minutes when they tried to cheat on a run.
The punishment which included having to pose like a urinating dog for 20 minutes appears to have been officially sanctioned. It contravened the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
It happened at Mafutseni during a recruitment exercise for the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (the Swaziland Army). Fifteen men had to complete a 3.2km run, but four of them were spotted getting into a car that was to take them close to the finishing line.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported on Wednesday (1 February 2017) that the four men were caught and punished for about an hour and a half.
It reported, ‘As punishment, at around 9:30am, they were ordered to do some push-ups, which were followed by sit-ups. They were also ordered to lie on their backs and face the sun.
‘Again, they were instructed to “sit on an invisible chair” while holding their ears with their hands.
‘While on the same position, they were ordered to walk forward and backwards.
They also jumped forward and backward while standing with their toes on the ground and hands holding their ears.
‘Moreover, the quartet was ordered to pose like a urinating male dog for about 20 minutes before they were freed to go and drink water at 11am.’
The Army is presently recruiting 495 additional soldiers from across the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
This is not the first time soldiers have tortured and humiliated civilians in Swaziland. In September 2015, the Swazi Parliament heard that soldiers beat up old ladies so badly they had to be taken to their homes in wheelbarrows.
Member of Parliament Titus Thwala said that the women were among the local residents who were regularly beaten by soldiers at informal crossing points between Swaziland and South Africa.
In 2011, a man was reportedly beaten with guns and tortured for three hours by soldiers who accused him of showing them disrespect. He was ordered to do press ups, frog jumps and told to run across a very busy road and was beaten with guns every time he tried to resist.
His crime was that he tried to talk to a man whose vehicle was being searched by soldiers at Maphiveni. The man, December Sikhondze, told the Swazi Observer at the time, ‘I only asked for a lift but they told me I was being disrespectful and that I should have waited for them to finish. They took my cell phone and ordered me to do press ups.’
In July 2011, three armed soldiers left a man for dead after he tried to help a woman they were beating up. And in a separate incident, a woman was beaten by two soldiers after she tried to stop them talking to her sister.
He said that he did more than 50 press ups and he was beaten with guns every time he asked to rest.