Swazi police executed a suspect ‘cowboy style’ when they shot him in public, confirming fears that there is a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy in Swaziland.
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’.
Thabani Mafutha Dlamini, aged 27, was gunned down by police on 8 December 2011.
The Swazi Observer newspaper reported, ‘Sources said Thabani Mafutha Dlamini was executed cowboy style on Thursday in the presence of his colleagues and homeboys.’
It added, ‘police are accused of allegedly “advising” Dlamini’s mother to budget for funeral expenses as they considered him as a troublesome person in the area, who needed to be removed’.
The Observer reported sources said police officers unexpectedly swooped in on Dlamini at a local shop; Mvungeni Grocery, at Nkwalini in Hlatikulu, where he was whiling away time with his friends and homeboys.
‘They said when he attempted to flee it was too late as three officers were already waiting at strategic points. Sources said Dlamini was apprehended in just a few seconds but he managed to slip out of the officers’ grip and took to his heels.
‘This supposedly sealed his fate as the few paces he took were enough to prompt the officers to fire three gunshots in his direction. It was said that one bullet that went through his back was enough to see Dlamini staggering and later dropping dead. The witnesses said he was left unconscious on the ground before being whisked by the same police officers to the Hlatikhulu Government Hospital, where he was certified dead on arrival.’
Dlamini was unarmed. It is unclear what crimes Dlamini is alleged to have committed, the Observer reported.
The Observer added, ‘The gunning down of Dlamini has sparked anger not only from his family but also a number of residents, who were calling for a probe to establish if it was necessary for the trigger happy police officers to kill him.’
This killing is not an isolated incident in Swaziland, where police have been involved in a number of controversial shootings.
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 near school children.
SWAZI POLICE AND DEADLY FORCE