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Monday, 21 January 2019

Swaziland chief bans alcohol. Shows how chiefs have complete control in area they rule

A chief in Swaziland / eSwatini has banned alcohol in his area. It is another example of how chiefs in the kingdom have complete control over their people.

The ban happened in Qomintaba. Chief Gasa waNgwane Dlamini issued the ban after youths allegedly got drunk and attacked elderly people with spears. 

Chiefs are appointed by King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland. They rule in his name and have unlimited powers; sometimes literally of life and death.

The international news agency AFP reported a spokesperson for the chief saying, ‘The violent behaviour of drunk youths who spear and assault elderly people is the reason why the chief decided to ban alcohol.

‘In this area we have a problem of a high rate of drinking among youths caused by high unemployment.

‘This causes them to spend a lot of time drinking traditional concoctions and smoking dagga (marajuana).’

Chief Gasa waNgwane Dlamini was in the news ahead of Swaziland’s national election in September 2018. In April there was a campaign at Lavumisa that includes Qomintaba.

The Swazi Observer reported at the time people were angry at ‘the draconian laws imposed allegedly by the leadership of the area’. 

Lavumisa Chief Gasa WaNgwane’s main royal residence is Qomintaba. There are almost 16 mini-chiefdoms in Lavumisa, all which report to Qomintaba. Constituencies under Lavumisa include Sigwe, Somntongo and Matsanjeni South. 

The Observer reported, ‘There has been instability in the area with some of the residents, including close family members of the ruling household, questioning Gasa WaNgwane’s leadership style. It is said some of the close family members and residents no longer participate in activities organised by the leadership.’

Chiefs in Swaziland are appointed by King Mswati and wield tremendous power over their subjects. They can, for example, determine whether people are allowed to live in the area, or whether children can attend universities and colleges. In some cases they decide who lives and who dies as they are in charge of distributing international food aid to starving communities. About a third of the population of Swaziland receive food aid each year. 

Chiefs can and do take revenge on their subjects who disobey them. There is a catalogue of cases in Swaziland. For example, Chief Dambuza Lukhele of Ngobelweni in the Shiselweni region banned his subjects from ploughing their fields because some of them defied his order to build a hut for one of his wives.

Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkhatswa, chief of Lwandle in Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland, reportedly stripped a woman of her clothing in the middle of a street in full view of the public because she was wearing trousers.

In November 2013, the newly-appointed Chief Ndlovula of Motshane threatened to evict nearly 1,000 of his subjects from grazing land if they did not pay him a E5,000 (about US$500 at the time) fine, the equivalent of more than six months income for many in Swaziland.

In March 2017 the Swazi Observer reported the EBC told residents during a voter education exercise at Engwenyameni Umphakatsi, ‘it was not acceptable have elected politicians to behave as if they were above community leaders’.

It added, ‘Chiefs remain superior to any other person in communities as they are the administrative arm of His Majesty King Mswati III.’

See also 

Chief punishes residents with fine
Bullying chiefs rule in Swaziland

Friday, 18 January 2019

Woman, 36, in Swaziland beaten and ordered to leave home because she is not married

A 36-year-old woman in Swaziland / eSwatini was beaten by three of her close relatives and ordered to leave home because she had no job and was not married.

The case which was reported in local media shines a spotlight on the plight of women in the male-dominated kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday (16 January 2019) that the woman whom it named had been beaten by three close relatives, including a woman. They hit her in the face with a brick. The newspaper published a photograph of her with a swollen face.

The Times reported, ‘She was given strict instructions to leave the homestead and get employment or find a husband to marry her.’

The newspaper added she said, ‘she was being blamed for misfortunes by relatives at the homestead because she was not married’.

The case highlights the position of women in Swaziland where by tradition they are considered to be owned by their fathers or their husbands.

Women remain oppressed in Swaziland and a main reason for this is King Mswati III who rules as an absolute monarch, according to report on women in the kingdom published in 2016.

ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) reported that despite claims that Swaziland was a modern country, ‘the reality is, despite pledges and commitments, women continue to suffer discrimination, are treated as inferior to men, and are denied rights.’

ACTSA added, ‘The King has demonstrated he is unwilling to change the status quo and promotes multiple aspects of the patriarchal society.’

In a briefing paper called Women’s Rights in Swaziland ACTSA said, ‘Swaziland has a deeply patriarchal society, where polygamy and violence against women are normalised, deeply unequal cultural and religious norms, and a male monarch who is unwilling to make any change. All this contributes towards the daily discrimination faced by women.’

Among discriminations against women highlighted by ACTSA were the high levels of girls dropping out of school. ACTSA reported, ‘Cultural gender norms dictate that women and girls provide the bulk of household-related work, including physical and emotional care. As a result, girls are under pressure to drop out from school, especially where there are few adults available to care for children and the elderly, for example, in child-headed households.’

ACTSA also highlighted that women lacked the legal rights to administer their own assets. It reported, ‘Most married women are denied equal status as legal adults: they cannot buy or sell property or land, sign contracts or conduct legal proceedings without the consent of their husbands. Many widows, denied the right to own land, are forced from their homes.’

Women also have few chances to find jobs. Swaziland was ranked 150th out of 188 countries in the world in the Gender Inequality Index, ACTSA reported. ‘Men control household resources and thus women remain dependent. This often results in women seeking alternative avenues for income, including transactional and commercial sex,’ it said.

In March 2018 the European Union in Swaziland began funding a three-year project called Supporting Women Empowerment & Equality in Swaziland (SWEES) to advocate for and support women’s rights in the kingdom.

In 2009 a report conducted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on behalf of the Swaziland Ministry of Economic Planning and Development found, ‘Unfortunately, the status of women is so lower than that of men, that she will not eat until everyone has eaten.’

During meal times, the women waited for the men and the youth to eat before they did. ‘Eating last also means that her choice of food is limited,’ the report said. ‘Traditionally, she does not consume milk and its products at her marital home, unless she earns permission through the offer of liphakelo beast by her husband.’ This is when the husband gives the woman a cow for her own use.

In September 2018 a report published by Afrobarometer found women’s rights continued to be ‘a challenging issue’ in Swaziland.

‘Violence and abuse are a major development concern in eSwatini profoundly affecting women and children,’ the report stated. 

About one in three women experienced some form of sexual violence as a child, and one in four experienced other forms of physical violence as a child.

After surveying 1,200 adults in Swaziland, Afrobarometer reported people thought the Swazi Government was doing well in promoting opportunities and equality for women but fewer than one in three (29 percent) of people thought that these had actually improved ‘compared to a few years ago’.

The survey suggested, ‘Strong majorities of the Swazi population support equal rights for women when it comes to land and work. About seven in 10 (69 percent) say women should have the same right as men to own and inherit land, and almost two-thirds (64 percent) disagree with the idea that men should have more right than women to jobs when employment is scarce.

‘However, when it comes to gender roles in the home, seven in 10 respondents (71 percent) prefer that a woman, rather than a man, take care of the household and children.’

See also

Rise in gender-based violence
Sex bill highlights culture issues
Shocking lives for Swazi women
Wives say husbands can rape them

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Evicted farmers take on Swaziland absolute monarch to get their land back

We want our land back, King Mswati
Kenworthy News Media, 16 January 2019
Swaziland’s government has been evicting farmers from their land to expand the monarchy-controlled sugar industry for decades. After years of empty promises that they could return, the children of farmers from Mbuluzi are fighting to get their land back, writes Kenworthy News Media.

John Sicelo Vilane was born in the Mafucula community in Eastern Swaziland in 1984, a year after his parents had been evicted from the village of Mbuluzi near the border to Mozambique, and relocated to Mafucula  – which in siSwati literally means ‘having been thrown away’ – by order of Swaziland’s absolute monarch.

“The late King Sobhuza II told the residents to give their land to Simunye Sugar Estates to expand its sugar cane growing business. They were told that the place they were being relocated to had water, roads, proper shelter, and that 15 years later the residents would relocate back to their land. Their houses were then demolished in front of them,” John Sicelo Vilane, who is the Secretary General of the Media Workers Union in Swaziland, explains.

“Arriving at their new home in Mafucula, they were shocked. It was a forest with no houses, no roads, no shelter, and no compensation. They were given caravans – the only assistance they got up until today – and built stick and mud houses that were washed away by the cyclone Domonia in 1984, the year I was born,” Vilane continues.

No security of tenure
Swaziland is an absolute monarchy where the word of the King is law. He appoints the government and controls parliament, the judiciary and the economy, and he also controls and benefits personally from the country’s largest export industry, sugar.

Swaziland, with a population shy of 1.5 million, is the fourth largest sugar producer in Africa, and sugar accounts for a fifth of its GDP. For decades the monarchy has been harassing, evicting and forcefully relocating poor subsistence farmers without compensation to make way for sugar-cane fields controlled by King Mswati III.

For many years their plight was more or less overlooked, but in recent years the stories of the farmers are finally being listened to. In December Zingiswa Losi, the President of trade federation COSATU from neighbouring South Africa, Swaziland’s largest trade partner by far, met with sugar cane farmers from Mafucula, Vuvulane and Shewula – a meeting that John Sicelo Vilane attended. Here she promised to help them regain their land.

In a report from last year, Amnesty International described two cases of forced and unlawful evictions in Swaziland, concluding that the evictions were in violation of international and regional human rights law, and were a symptom of “a deeper underlying problem” to do with a lack of security of tenure.

And in a report from 2016, detailing the land confiscation in Swaziland’s sugar industry, the International Trade Union Confederation described how “the EU and the USA must realize that by supporting Swaziland through sugar markets they are, in fact, propping up the Swazi regime.”

‘We want our land back’
American independent watchdog organization Freedom House stated in a press release from 2013 that the Swazi police “are increasing pressure on farmers resisting their unlawful evictions from land that they have occupied for generations.” A report from the organization on Swaziland from the same year concluded that, “in Swaziland, property is insecure, and rightful owners have no effective redress in the legal system which places the king above all laws.”

So the farmers and their children from Mafucula, as well as other evicted Swazi farmers, have been forced to accept that they will not be given their land back without a fight.

When it was time to return to Mbuluzi 15 years later, as promised by King Sobhuza, the committee formed by the around 3.000 inhabitants of Mafucula was rebuffed by King Mswati III’s chief in the area and the sugar company.

“At the time we lacked those brave warriors who could have told the chief to pave way for negotiations with the company to resume. Now we, as the youth, have taken it upon ourselves to work the issue and take another step as a community,” John Sicelo Vilane says.

“Land is power and land is everything. Land is for us all to use, distribute and share equally. All that we want is justice, all we want is our our land back, and the delaying tactics from the sugar company won’t solve anything,” he insists.

See also

COSATU to help evicted Swaziland sugar cane farmers regain control of land from King
EU money pays for lavish Swazi king
Human suffering and Swazi sugar
King exploits sugar workers

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Swaziland’s absolute monarch grants scholarship to student who begged him on hands and knees

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland/ eSwatini, has granted a scholarship to a female student who publicly got down on her hands and knees to beg him for one.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, said on Tuesday (15 January 2019) this ‘proved that he listens to the needs of the people and acts fast’.

Mphilwenhle Matsebula, aged 26, a first year student at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) made international news in September 2018 when according to the Observer ‘she literally begged for a scholarship’. It happened when King Mswati was touring the International Trade Fair at Manzini.

The Observer reported, ‘Matsebula has been granted the scholarship as per His Majesty’s order. Previously, Matsebula’s life at the institution was very difficult because government had initially refused to grant her the scholarship. She had been told she did not qualify for it.’

Swaziland’s education system like all public services is presently in crisis because the government, handpicked by King Mswati, is broke. In November 2018 it was reported students were forced to sell themselves for sex to businessmen and affluent tourists because government had not paid allowances.

The Sunday edition of the Swazi Observer reported at the time, ‘delayed payments of allowances which themselves are meagre force girl students into availing themselves for sexual favours in exchange for food, drinks and other goodies’.

There is an ongoing dispute between students and the government over the payment of scholarships and allowances that cover fees, living expenses and items such as books. In May 2017, the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) launched a campaign for scholarships for all. They want the Swazi Government to reverse a decision to prioritise courses and cut scholarships by 60 percent. Students want all students admitted to higher learning institutions to have scholarships, regardless of the programme they are doing or the institution they are in.

Meanwhile, the outgoing President of SNUS Brian Sangweni told its 11th National General Congress in 2018 that thousands of high school graduates with good grades remained idle at home because the government would not pay them scholarships to study.

He said, ‘Those who are lucky to make it and enrol into the institutions are also not off the hook of suffering due to lack of living allowances to enable them to live a healthy and dignified period of study and to realise their optimal potential.’

He added students were finding it hard to concentrate to their studies and some dropped out or committed suicide because of the pressure.

Mpilwenhle Matsebula begs King Mswati Swaziland’s absolute monarch (far left) for a university scholarship. (Picture: Swazi Observer)
See also

In full public view, on hand and knees student begs Swaziland king for scholarship

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Police in Swaziland beat 14-year-old who went to report she had been raped by her father, court told

A young woman in Swaziland / eSwatini told a court police beat her up when she went to report she had been raped by her father. She was 14 years old at the time.
She said he had repeatedly raped her up to three times a day for years. After she reported him to police he raped her again as punishment.

The case at Pigg’s Peak Magistrates’ Court was reported by the Times of Swaziland on Monday (14 January 2019). The newspaper said the woman who it called Nani (not her real name) reported her father in 2014 when she was 14 years old.

It said she was allegedly beaten up by female officers inside the Siphofaneni police station where she had gone to seek refuge.

‘She alleged that a police officer hit her using a case register while another officer held her hands,’ the Times reported.

It added, ‘In 2016, Nani gave birth to a baby girl whom she said was born from the alleged continued rape by her father. She believes that had the police arrested her father when she first reported the rape in 2014, she would not have fallen pregnant.’

The court was told the father allegedly began to rape his daughter when she was aged seven. Nani told the court that her father often had sex with her three times a day until February 2018.

The Times reported that the father allegedly raped her again immediately after she had reported him to police ‘as a way of punishing her’.

The father was eventually arrested by an officer from the  Buhleni Police Post. The case continues. The father has yet to testify.

Rape and sexual abuse of children is common in Swaziland. In 2013, UNICEF reported that one in three girls in Swaziland were sexually abused, usually by a family member and often by their own fathers - 75 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were known to the victim.

A report in Swaziland in 2009 suggested many men in Swaziland believed it was all right to rape children if their own wives were not giving them enough sex. Men who were interviewed during the making of the State of the Swaziland Population report said they ‘“salivate” over children wearing skimpy dress codes because they are sexually starved in their homes.’

Recorded figures on rape have shown Swaziland to have the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. In 2015 a report from a US organisation ABCNewspoint stated there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among 100,000 people.

Police in Swaziland have been criticised for their lack of concern over rape victims. In July 2017 the Swazi Observer said rape victims reported their plight was not being treated seriously by police and often they were simply dropped off at hospital and made to find their own help. It came at a time when 1,082 rapes had been reported in Swaziland in the previous two years.

The newspaper detailed one rape victim who reported her case to police and was taken to hospital two hours later. ‘On arrival, she was dropped off at the emergency gate from whence she had to find her way through the hospital after the police pointed her to the general direction.’

Not knowing the correct procedure she waited in line to be examined by a nurse. The Observer reported, ‘In the midst of the patients waiting to see nurses was a schoolgirl, in full uniform, dirty and beaten up, also an alleged survivor of sexual assault. It was only after several hours of waiting, in her bloody and mud caked clothes that the survivor was assisted and taken to the Gender Based Violence (GBV) Unit ,which was recently constructed.’

A teacher at a primary school in the outskirts of Manzini told the newspaper she had assisted a pupil who had been attacked on her way to school and took her to hospital. ‘The process of getting the rape reported is traumatising the survivors,’ the teacher said. ‘The confusion and helplessness that comes with such violation is further confounded by the process that it takes for one to get assistance.’ 

The teacher added, ‘On reaching the hospital, having secured transport on a taxi, we were told to go to the police station first in order to enable her to be attended as assault and rape cases only get attention after being reported to the police.’ She said they were sent from one police post to another and finally had to wait two hours before being taken to hospital.

The teacher said, ‘If the experience was this traumatic for me as a person assisting, how much more those who go to the police without assistance and get haphazard reception?’

See also

Alleged rape of two-year-old in Swaziland covered up in name of local culture

Monday, 14 January 2019

Alleged rape of two-year-old in Swaziland covered up in name of local culture

The alleged rape of a two-year-old child in Swaziland / eSwatini has been covered up by her family because Swazi culture does not permit it to be reported to authorities. It is another example of how culture allows adults to mistreat children, often violently.
The Swazi News reported on Saturday (12 January 2019) that the child had allegedly been raped by her grandfather but had been denied justice in the name of tibi tendlu which it said meant ‘sweeping matters under the carpet’.

The newspaper gave details of the rape allegation and added, ‘According to a source close to the minor, some family members have been threatened with death if they reported the matter which occurred in March last year.’

In 2017 a report from the University of Edinburgh, backed by the global children’s organisation UNICEF, said that children in Swaziland were subjected to extreme violence, often in their homes. It highlighted the place of tibi tendlu in covering up family secrets. 

It reported, ‘The widely accepted notion of keeping family matters private to protect the family or community over the individual was repeatedly cited as a driver of violence and was also found to be a factor dissuading individuals from intervening when they suspect a child is abused.’

It added cultural norms prevented children from telling anyone about the violence they experience; kept community and family members from intervening when they saw a child being harmed; presented community and institutional barriers to professionals and others such as teachers seeking to help the child and gave the perpetrator a sense of impunity – such  that they could continue abusing children without consequences.

Data from Swaziland suggested violent discipline in the home, which included physical punishment and psychological aggression, affected more than 88 percent of all children. The study findings also revealed that sexual violence and bullying affected 38 percent and 32 percent of children in Swaziland, respectively. The study found that children experiencing one type of violence were more likely to experience other types of violence. For every girl child known to Social Welfare as having experienced sexual violence, there were an estimated 400 girls who had never received help or assistance for sexual violence.

See also

Research in Swaziland suggests spanking children is harmful and can cause mental problems
Sick kids ‘hidden to save image of kingdom’
Kids forced to weed King’s fields

Friday, 11 January 2019

Poisonous chemicals in Swaziland river affects thousands. Children eat dead fish

Poisonous chemicals have been dumped into the Mlumati River in Swaziland / eSwatini killing hundreds of fish and affecting more than 3,000 people who rely on its water.

It happened near Lufafa Gold Mine. The Mlumati River supports communities at Lufafa, Hhelehhele, Mbasheni, Ntfonjeni, Zibonele, Emvembili, Matsamo, Timphisini and Driekoppies. It also serves parts of neighbouring South Africa.
According to the Swazi Observer poisoned waste entered the river on Monday (7 January 2019).

Hhelehhele caretaker chief Prince Nkhosi Mankenya said children gathered dead fish, cooked and ate them. He said, ‘It is a sad truth that people, mostly children, are collecting and eating the dead fish. I have asked community police to try and remove as much of the dead fish as possible from the community for disposal into dug up pits.’ 

The eSwatini Environment Authority has collected water samples for testing. Communications Officer Belusile Mhlanga told the Observer, ‘These samples are to be analysed in a laboratory to identify the cause of death in the fish. After establishing the cause of death, we will then approach the suspects with evidence in hand. At this particular point, the suspects will be given time to explain if the toxic water dumping was intentional or an accident.’

She added, ‘After this grace period, the suspects are then arrested and brought before court for the illegal disposal of toxic waste. If found guilty, they face a fine of E250,000 [US$18,000] for their reckless disposal of the waste. It is important to note that most organisations have government permits to dispose of their waste after treating it.’ 

National Disaster Management Agency Communications Officer Wandile Mavuso said currently the incident could not be labelled a disaster but people should be careful and avoid eating the dead fish until all information is collected.

The poisoning highlights the poor state of water provision in Swaziland. According to WaterAid almost one in three of the kingdom’s 1.3 million people do not have clean water and two in five have nowhere to go to the toilet. More than children aged under five die each year from diarrhoea. 

According to the eSwatini Environment Authority the main sources of pollution in rivers in Swaziland are agricultural activities. Pollution from fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other agrochemicals is thought to be increasing. Another source of agricultural pollution is livestock excreta.

See also
King makes poor use filthy water

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Research in Swaziland suggests spanking children is harmful and can cause mental problems

New research from Swaziland / eSwatini and other developing countries suggests that spanking children is harmful and can cause mental problems.

The study used data from UNICEF global children’s organisation from 62 countries, including Swaziland. 

Corporal punishment is widespread in homes in Swaziland. It was banned from schools in 2015 but continues to be used.

The study from the University of Michigan in the United States found one-third of people questioned said they believed physical punishment was necessary to bring up, raise or educate a child properly. Among the children studied, 43 percent were spanked, or resided in a home where another child was spanked.

A child’s social development suffered in both cases in which he or she was spanked or during times when a sibling had been spanked, the study showed.

Garrett Pace, the study’s lead author said, ‘It appears that in this sample ... spanking may do more harm than good.’

Pace also noted that ‘reductions in corporal punishment might do a great deal to reduce the burden of children’s mental health and improve child development outcomes globally’.

More effort to create policies that discourage spanking has occurred globally. In fact, 54 countries have banned the use of corporal punishment, which can only benefit children's well-being long term, Pace and colleagues said.

In a separate report UNICEF estimated nearly nine in ten children in Swaziland suffered ‘violent discipline’.

In a report of a national survey published in August 2017, UNICEF stated ‘violent discipline in the home, which includes physical punishment and psychological aggression, affects more than 88 per cent of all children in Swaziland.

‘The study findings also reveal that sexual violence and bullying affects 38 percent and 32 percent of children in Swaziland, respectively. The study found that children experiencing one type of violence were more likely to experience other types of violence. 

‘One staggering statistic to emerge from the data revealed that for every girl child known to Social Welfare as having experienced sexual violence, there are an estimated 400 girls who have never received help or assistance for sexual violence.’

UNICEF reported one of the ‘drivers’ of violence against children was Swazi culture. It stated, ‘The widely accepted notion of keeping family matters private to protect the family or community over the individual was repeatedly cited as a driver of violence and was also found to be a factor dissuading individuals from intervening when they suspect a child is abused.’

Article 29(2) of the Swaziland Constitution 2005 states ‘a child shall not be subjected to abuse or torture or other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment subject to lawful and moderate chastisement for purposes of correction’. The Children’s Protection and Welfare Act 2012 however provides for ‘justifiable’ discipline.

Corporal punishment was banned in Swazi schools by the Ministry of Education and Training in 2015, but caning continues. There are many reports from across Swaziland that pupils have been brutalised by their teachers.

In a debate in the Swazi Parliament in March 2017 members of parliament called for the cane to be brought back into schools. The MPs said the positive discipline adopted in schools was causing problems for teachers because they no longer knew how to deal with wayward pupils. 

There had been 4,556 cases of ‘severe corporal punishment’ of children in Swaziland’s schools over the previous four years, Star Africa reported in March 2016.

In 2005 The International Save the Children Alliance published research into Swazi children’s experiences of corporal punishment.

In a survey, 20 percent of children reported being hit with a hand and 59 percent of children reported being beaten with an object at school during a two-week period. In schools, children are most often hit with the hand, sticks, canes, sjamboks and blackboard dusters. 

Children reported being subjected to corporal punishment at school due to making a noise or talking in class, coming late to school, not completing work, not doing work correctly, failing tests, wearing incorrect uniform items, dropping litter, losing books or leaving them at home.

See also

Children fear beatings, miss school
Cane banned in Swazi schools
Teachers beat boys on naked buttocks

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Another Swaziland magistrate tells police stop beating suspects as number of cases increase

Another magistrate in Swaziland / eSwatini has spoken out about the increasing number of suspects who appear in court with bruises claiming they have been assaulted by police.

Magistrate Sindisile Zwane at Mbabane said she had noticed a number of suspects came before her in court with bruises and swollen faces and other parts of their bodies.

The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (3 January 2019) the numbers were increasing significantly. The newspaper added she said police should be able to question people without beating them up.

She made her comments during a trial of Jules Tsabedze who was charged with obstructing two police officers. The Observer reported, ‘The magistrate noticed that the suspect’s face was swollen and asked why this was the case. Tsabedze narrated that he was beaten by the police from Eteni all the way to University of Eswatini while in the back of the police vehicle.’

This was not the first time a magistrate in Swaziland has made a public rebuke of police. In March 2018 Principal Magistrate at Manzini David Khumalo told police they must not beat suspects after a man appeared in court with injuries all over his body. 

The Swazi Observer reported at the time, ‘The Principal Magistrate warned that accused persons are citizens of the country and they have rights too. He said they have a right to assist police with investigations but they cannot be forced to do that by being assaulted.’

Blessing Bakhe Maseko, aged 22, of Madonsa, informed the court through his attorney that he was heavily assaulted with a sjambok [whip] while inside police cells.

There have been many allegations of police assault in recent times. In November 2018 it was reported a man from Mangwaneni was left close to death after being allegedly assaulted by two officers at a police station. He suffered severe internal bleeding, heart seizures, the swelling of his kidneys and nerve damage on both his arms and legs.

In September 2018 four women were reportedly beaten with sjamboks and pipes and scalded with boiling water at Siteki police station. Two of them needed hospital treatment for burns and blisters. They were accused of stealing from shops.

In March 2017 a man accused of multiple murders told Manzini Magistrates’ Court he was tortured by police for 11 days to force him to confess. He said he was suffocated with a tube and assaulted all over his body, resulting in many serious injuries. The alleged attack was said to have taken place at Lobamba Police Station.

In January 2017 local media reported police forced a 13-year-old boy to remove his trousers and flogged him at Ngwenya police station with a sjambok, to make him confess to stealing a mobile phone. 

In June 2016 a United Nations review panel looking into human rights in Swaziland was told in a joint report by four organisations, ‘In Mbabane [the Swazi capital], police tortured a 15-year-old boy after his mother had reported him for stealing E85.00 (US$6). The boy alleges that he was beaten with a slasher (metal blade tool for cutting grass) and knobkerrie [club] for five hours. While enduring the pain, he alleges that he was made to count the strokes aloud for the police to hear. Instead of being charged, the boy was physically assaulted and made to sit in a chair for thirty minutes before he was sent back home.’

The report was submitted to the United Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland by the Swaziland Multi-Media Community Network, Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations and Constituent Assembly – Swaziland.
See also

‘Horror tale of Swazi police torture’
More police torture in Swaziland

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

King Mswati in complete control as another year of human rights struggle ends in Swaziland

King Mswati III demonstrated how powerful he is as the absolute monarch of Swaziland / eSwatini by ignoring provisions in the constitution when he selected a Prime Minister and other members of parliament following the September 2018 election. He also appointed eight members of his Royal Family to the kingdom’s Senate and six to the House of Assembly.

Full results of the elections, which were widely recognised outside the kingdom to be illegitimate because political parties are banned from taking part, have still not been released. There were also reports of bribery and other voting irregularities.

These were some of the stories that appeared on the Swazi Media Commentary website in the final three months of 2018 and compiled in Swaziland: Striving for Freedom, Volume 32 which is available to download free of charge from Scribd dot com

Swaziland faces a period of continued unrest because the elections were unable to change anything, according to global analysts Fitch Solutions. Risks to stability in the kingdom are growing, it said. The Government – handpicked by King Mswati – continued to lurch from one financial crisis to another and pensions were not paid to the elderly.

On a more positive note a church in Swaziland openly welcomed LGBTI people but discrimination against this group of people remains rife. A ground-breaking documentary on life as an LGBTI person in Swaziland was released on YouTube and focussed on the first ever Pride event that took place in June 2018.

Workers continued to be oppressed and riot police invaded a hospital during a peaceful nurses’ protest. Police were sent into schools to invigilate exams during a teachers’ pay dispute. A conference revealed four in ten sex workers in Swaziland had been raped by uniformed police officers.

Swazi Media Commentary is published online, updated most weekdays. It is operated entirely by volunteers and receives no financial backing from any organisation. It is devoted to providing information and commentary in support of human rights in Swaziland.

See also

Police violence, undemocratic elections, hunger and disease: highlights of Swaziland’s human rights violations

Swaziland: Striving for freedom
Swaziland update on human rights
A decade of news and views

Monday, 7 January 2019

Couple in Swaziland face up to 15 years jail under new sexual offences law for making love in front of a child

A couple in Swaziland / eSwatini might face up to 15 years in jail because they had sex in front of a child.
It is thought to be the first case of its kind brought under the new Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act.

Nkosinathi Mamba, aged 24, and Nonhle Ndlovu, aged 23, have been remanded on bail by Siphofaneni Circuit Court on 29 March 2019.

The court was told that the couple had sex in front of a nine-year-old who was accompanied by an elderly man. The man reported them to the police. They pleaded guilty at court, according to the Times of Swaziland.

They were charged under Section 41 of the SODV Act which came into force in 2018 and states it is illegal to compel or cause a child to be present or to watch that person while committing a sexual act.

The Times reported Mamba told Siphofaneni Circuit Court they thought the man and child were asleep.

It took about 10 years for the SODV Bill to go through the Swaziland Parliament before it was finally passed in 2018. Its main aim was to prevent violence against women but it also contained a number of clauses that offended traditionalists in the male-dominated society. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. He had 15 wives before one ran away and another died.

Commenting in 2018 on the SODV Bill before it was passed the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said attitudes in Swaziland towards domestic violence demonstrated strong support for traditional gender roles, high levels of rape-supportive attitudes and tolerant attitudes for violence.

The ICJ said, ‘For example, only 51 per cent of men have been surveyed as believing that a woman may refuse to have sexual intercourse with her husband, while 88 per cent believe a woman should obey her husband and 45 per cent believe a husband has a right to punish his wife if she does something he deems is wrong.’

Other offences under the SODV Act include having sex with animals (maximum 10 years jail); having sex with a dead person (15 years jail) and flashing genitals or anus (5 years).

See also 

‘Urgent need to pass sex offences bill’
Dad rapes daughter (16) to test her virginity
Wives say husbands can rape them