A Swazi policeman shot a crime suspect in the head in what looks like an execution-style killing.
The dead man, described by the Times of Swaziland as a Form IV pupil in a school in Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, ‘was executed in front of his brothers’.
The Times, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reports today (1 February 2011), that Mbongeni Masuku ‘was dragged out of the car he was travelling in with his brothers before being shot in the head’.
The killing happened outside a bar in Matsapha, an industrial town in Swaziland.
He said, ‘The police officers, Mfundo and Pompo, came straight for Masuku while they were standing in front of his car and pulled him by his belt.
‘While Mfundo was pulling him (Masuku), he was also threatening to shoot him but Mbongeni never uttered a word.
‘Minutes later, Mfundo 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.’
Maphanga said the police took Masuku’s body and loaded it on their van and left.
The Times reported that Masuku’s brother David Masuku said police later claimed Masuku died of his injuries at hospital. ‘Mbongeni died on the spot,’ David Masuku told the newspaper.
David Masuku told the newspaper he had been told that his brother might have been killed because of differences he had with the police officer who shot him.
‘This officer would sometimes call on his mobile phone and tell him that ‘tintsaba atihlangani kodvwa banftu bayahlangana’ (This loosely means you can run, but not hide),’ David Masuku said.
Police spokeswoman Superintendent Wendy Hleta told the Observer, ‘The deceased was shot while trying to escape arrest.’
This killing is not an isolated incident in Swaziland, where police have been involved in a number of controversial shootings.
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 an unofficial ‘shoot to kill’ policy. They have also been involved in a number of heavy-handed attacks on members of the public, including shooting near school children.