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Tuesday 18 July 2017


Soldiers in Swaziland forced a bus-load of passengers to strip naked as they were returning from a trip to neighbouring Mozambique. Local media reported it happens all the time.

It follows reports of woman being routinely stripped naked at other border posts.

In the latest case, a kombi bus was stopped by soldiers just after it crossed the Mhlumeni Border Gate.

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported they were ordered to strip ‘stark naked’ as part of a ‘routine body search’.

The newspaper said the passengers had been on vacation in Mozambique.

The Times reported the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) – the official name of the Swazi army  – ordered the passengers to alight from the bus, ‘as per the norm for people entering the country’.

The newspaper reported, ‘The soldiers were in a tent mounted not far from the border gate, around Lugongolweni, on the junction to Sitsatsaweni. The passengers said they followed instructions and lay on the ground. 

‘After their bags and vehicle were searched, a female soldier is said to have ordered that everyone take off their clothes so that they could inspect them for hidden items bought from Mozambique. 

‘At first, the shocked citizens said they were hesitant to do as ordered but the female soldier insisted that they comply. 

‘They said they felt disrespected, embarrassed and reduced to nothing as they were made to undress in the open whereas it was cold. Also, the fact that they were a mixed gender made complying with the order quite uncomfortable.’

The USDF has been under fire recently after local media revealed that soldiers at the informal crossing situated next to the Mananga Border Gate with South Africa routinely made women remove their underwear so they could inspect their private parts with a mirror. 

The Times of Swaziland newspaper reported on 7 June 2017 that soldiers were trying to see if women were carrying ‘illegal objects’. A spokesperson for the USDF told the newspaper there was nothing new with the method used by soldiers to search people crossing through the informal points. 

USDF official spokesperson Lieutenant Nkosinathi Dlamini later said, ‘If they cannot cope with those security measures used there, they should avoid using those crossings.’

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