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Sunday, 26 September 2010

POLICE INTIMIDATION: NEW EVIDENCE

The fallout from the Swazi police harassment against foreign nationals continues as another eyewitness account has become public.


Lone Christiansen, a member of the board of Africa Contact, Denmark, recalls how police broke up a meeting on 6 September 2010 and began beating up herself and colleagues, because police thought they had been taking photos of them.


They were then taken to the police station.


Christiansen writes,In the yard at the police station we were pushed towards a hallway that led to a large room on the one side, that was later used to interrogate us, and to the yard on the other.


‘Due to being shocked at the treatment we had received from the police, I was slow in mounting the stairs with my luggage. A policewoman threatened me with a truncheon and told me to get in line and hurry up. In the hallway, we were stood up against the wall with approximately half a metre between us.


‘They were scolding us and asking us what we were doing in Swaziland and why we been avoiding them. They asked us our names. They took turns in questioning us three Europeans about what we were doing here. I was shocked and very nervous.


‘The police asked me why I was so nervous and I tried to explain to them that I had just been slapped across the face. I received several death threats, e.g. that we would never return home. I also heard Peter receiving death threats. They asked me if Morten or Peter was my husband. When I explained that I was single and didn't have a boyfriend in Swaziland they wanted to know why I didn't have a Swazi boyfriend and whether I didn't like Swazi men.’


Police would not allow them to contact their embassy or access to a lawyer.


Christiansen goes on,After having stood in the hallway for a while, we were taken to the yard down the back stairway. In the yard we were stood together facing a number of uniformed policemen that formed a crescent in front of us. The uniformed police officers were waving their truncheons in the air menacingly.’


Later the three were interrogated. ‘I was the first to be sent for interrogation. I requested (in fact I pleaded and begged) to be able to call the Danish embassy but this was flatly turned down.


‘I was interrogated in a large room. One woman and around eight men were present. Three or four of the police men were writing down every word I was saying on note pads. None of those present were physically threatening. I was threatened verbally several times, however.


‘I was e.g. told that I would not be going home unless I told them “everything”. I now believe that this was meant as an indirect death threat. I was too shaken up to register this at the time, however.’


Christiansen goes on, The police told me that I would not be going home today if I didn't answer them truthfully. They were in effect telling me that the rule of law that I knew did not apply in Swaziland. In short: if they were not satisfied with my answers something nasty would happen to me.’


To read the full account click here. The account has been sent to the Danish Embassy in Pretoria, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Danish Citizens Information Desk (Borgerservice).


This is only one of several eyewitness accounts to police intimidation on the same day. To read other accounts click here, here and here.

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