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Monday, 23 November 2015


People in Swaziland have been ordered not to comment on the controversial sponsorship of a new soccer tournament because King Mswati III has pronounced on the subject.

In a stark example of the lack of freedom of speech in the tiny kingdom where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, the most senior monarchy loyalist TV Mtetwa has pronounced that ‘members of parliament, [cabinet] ministers and whoever’ must be silent on the matter.

The controversy surrounds the E9 million (about US$900,000) sponsorship of the Ingwenyama Cup tournament by the government parastatal Sincephetelo Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (SMVAF). 
SMVAF exists to compensate victims of road accidents.

King Mswati himself launched the tournament at an event at Lozitha, one of the 13 palaces he has in Swaziland.

A range of critics said the amount of sponsorship was too much to spend in a kingdom that was presently battling with poverty and a drought. Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.

But, the Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported on Saturday (21 November 2015) that Mtetwa, who is generally regarded as the ‘traditional prime minister’, said people must stop discussing the topic, ‘because the lion has already roared on the matter’.

The newspaper is part of the Swazi Observer group, which was called a  ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal family’ by the Media Institute of Southern Africa in a report on press freedom in Swaziland.

The Observer on Saturday reported Mtetwa, ‘emphasised that it was wrong for people to publicly talk about what the King has already pronounced and set in motion’.

The newspaper added, ‘Mtetwa said since time immemorial it had been a traditional norm that no one speaks after the King had spoken.’

The newspaper said, ‘He warned all critics to guard against being seen to be going against pronouncements made by the King.’

The newspaper added, ‘Also sought for comment, was traditionalist and National Court President Ndumiso Dlamini who put it clear that he expected no one to taint what the king had blessed.

‘He said it was a known traditional or and cultural practice that once His Majesty had spoken, no one is expected to say a word against his.’

Earlier, some members of parliament told Minister for Finance Martin Gobizandla Dlamini that they were against the allocation of E9 million to the soccer tournament. The money will be paid over three years.

Friday, 20 November 2015


Documents revealed publicly for the first time on Friday (20 November 2015) confirm that King Mswati III of Swaziland personally paid US$9.5 million for a jet aircraft in 2012.

The government that he handpicked had publicly said the jet was donated by ‘development partners’. 

The sale and purchase agreement contains the signature of King Mswati as the purchaser.

King Mswati, who rules the tiny impoverished kingdom of Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been at the at the centre of a public row over the purchase of the jet.

Last Friday (13 November 2015) the Mail and Guardian (M&G), a South-African based newspaper published details of the aircraft purchase on its website

Most of the M&G report was not new. In April 2015, the Swazi Media Commentary website revealed details behind the purchase. It reported that the King’s own company Inchatsavane paid the US$9.5 million cost of the McDonnel Douglas McDonnell Douglas DC-9-87 (also known as an MD-87). Later, a further US$4.1 million was spent on refurbishing the plane.

The Sale and Purchase Agreement for the plane dated 18 April 2012 stated the purchaser as Inchatsavane Company (Pty) Ltd. The agreement describes Inchatsavane as a ‘limited company formed under the law of Swaziland under certification of incorporation No 581 of 2010.’ The company’s office address is given as ‘1st Floor, Ellerines Building, Swazi Plaza, [Mbabane], Swaziland.’ 

King Mswati’s signature appears on the document as ‘sole shareholder / owner’ of the company. For the first time Swazi Media Commentary has released a copy of the document online

The seller is given as Wells Fargo Bank Northwest, National Association, ‘not in its individual capacity but solely as owner trustee’.

A Bank of America Wire Transfer dated 26 April 2012, shows US$9.5 million dollars was transferred from the account of ‘His Majesty King Mswati III’, bank account number 0240037517401, at the Standard Bank Swaziland Ltd, Stanbic House, Swazi Plaza, Mbabane, Swaziland.

Swazi Media Commentary has also released online a copy of the bank transfer

The money was transferred to McAfee and Taft escrow account in the United States. An ‘escrow’ account is a bank account for keeping money that is the property of others.

Under US law funds wired to an escrow account must come directly from the purchaser and not a parent, subsidiary, related company, officer, governor or director. King Mswati personally signed the escrow agreement. Swazi Media Commentary has for the first time released a copy of this document online.
What is not clear is where King Mswati got the money to pay for the jet. In 2012, the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, who was personally appointed to office by the King, said on government-controlled radio that the King had been given the jet as a birthday gift, ‘from development partners and friends of the King, to be used by their majesties for travels abroad’.

The Swazi Government denied public money had been used to buy the jet. Government spokesperson Percy Simelane was reported by the BBC saying the jet was a gift to the King from, ‘people already involved in the social and economic development of the country’.

There has been speculation that the jet was donated by Kuwait, but if this was the case it has not been explained why the oil-rich state made the gift and what it expected in return.

In April 2012, the Swazi Government categorically denied that the plane was donated by the Kuwait Government.

It issued a statement saying, ‘It is true that His Majesty the King received a gift in the form of a Mcdonnell DC-9 Aircraft for his and the Queen Mother’s travels abroad on engagement on national interest. 

‘It is also true that the sponsors of this magnificent gift, exercising their rights, elected to remain anonymous.

‘It is not true that the Kuwait Government or countries and companies mentioned in the South Africa media purchased the aircraft for His Majesty the King or contributed in any form whatsoever towards this present.’

Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, with incomes of less than US$2 per day, three in ten are so hungry they are medically diagnosed as malnourished and the kingdom has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.

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Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) has called on the Commonwealth to ‘vigorously respond’ to the Government of Swaziland’s failings on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

It said King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ‘must be held to account for its serious breaches of the Commonwealth Charter’.

ACTSA, which is the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, issued a report ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting due to be held in Malta on 27-29 November 2015.

In a submission to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, ACTSA said Swaziland’s lack of respect for Commonwealth principles, along with its violations of international human rights law, resulted in the subordination of the vast majority of the kingdom’s population. 

The report noted the ‘growing internal criticism of the Government of Swaziland, including a call for a transformation of the political system’ and added ‘internal pressure for reform can be bolstered by external pressure’.

ACTSA said Swaziland must address: bans on political parties participating in the democratic process; restrictions on freedom of expression; a weakened judiciary; and abuses of women’s rights. 

The report challenged Swaziland’s response to previous recommendations made by the Commonwealth and demanded that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group take action.

ACTSA’s Director, Tony Dykes, said in a statement, ‘The Swazi government has led the Commonwealth on a merry dance. If the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group - and thus the Commonwealth as a whole - is to command respect, it absolutely must take action to ensure Swaziland lives up to the commitments it has made. The time has long come for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to formally consider the Government of Swaziland’s status with respect to the Commonwealth Charter. The people of Swaziland deserve nothing less.’

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Thursday, 19 November 2015


Students and prodemocracy activists this week have marked the anniversary of the time the Swazi Army invaded the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) in what one international newspaper called, ‘a crackdown of unprecedented violence in the history of the university.’

The invasion which came to be known as ‘Black Wednesday’ happened on 14 November 1990. 

The Times Higher Education Supplement newspaper in the UK reported, ‘the Swazi government dispatched armed police and military units to the [University of Swaziland] campus to disperse boycotting students. It was a crackdown of unprecedented violence in the history of the university.’

The event is still commemorated at UNISWA, but over time it is thought that many of today’s students do not know much about  what happened that day at the university’s Kwaluseni campus.

The news agency Inter Press Service (IPS) called the student unrest in 1990 a ‘rebellion’ that ‘became a seminal event that signalled a new generation’s political consciousness’. It was, IPS said, ‘a dawning political awareness born from a confluence of historical forces then sweeping the world and the Southern African region’.

The IPS report which was a retrospective nine years after the event (2 December 1999) said ‘armed soldiers pushed police aside and forced students out of the library where they had barricaded themselves’.

The day began as a ‘disorganised demonstration’ against campus issues such as poor food ‘but soon turned into demands for democratic reforms in Swaziland's government’.

The IPS report quoted Manzini lawyer Lindiwe Khumalo-Matse, a university student at the time, saying, ‘The reason why soldiers were called in was because government saw our protest as a political uprising.’

Khumalo-Matse was further quoted by IPS, ‘This was because of the involvement of Sabelo Dlamini, who was a member of the People's United Democratic movement (PUDEMO). Sabelo was prominent in the Students Representative Council,’ hesaid.

In 1990, one of its most draconian measures, a 60-Day Detention Law, was still in force, permitting authorities to lock up anyone they saw as a threat to public order. All political protestors were designated as such threats.

The violence that ensued after soldiers swept through campus has been a sensitive subject with government ever since. A commission of enquiry had its report secreted away for years, with a bowdlerized version finally released to the public in 1997.Two students who were seriously injured sued government for damages, and their cases were settled out of court.

IPS reported that not only was the traditional leadership’s fear of democracy revealed on ‘Black Wednesday’, but also a proletariat attitude of resentment, displayed by the soldiers, was shown against the educated student ‘elite.’ The military's code name for the university invasion was ‘Operation Tinfundiswa (educated ones).’

‘It was a time of wild rumors,’ recalled Khumalo-Matse. ‘We heard that government feared we would burn down the library, which belied common sense because we were inside and would have incinerated ourselves.’

The army officials in charge gave students a five-minute warning, and then unleashed what one onlooker later told an investigating committee was a ‘military riot against civilians’.

Students were beaten as they emerged from the library to escape teargas canisters hurled through windows, and had to run a gauntlet of soldiers. Other soldiers chased students until they cornered them along fences. As they beat students with batons, the soldiers informed them they were being ‘punished’.

People in Swaziland were shocked by the brutality. Particularly offensive was one newspaper photo depicting a young woman carried out of the library between soldiers ‘like a slaughtered pig’, according to a letter writer to the Times of Swaziland.

After the invasion, Michael Prosser, a professor from the United States who was working at the University of Swaziland, posted an account of what he saw on his personal website. A version of this later appeared in a book he co-edited called Civic Discourse: Intercultural, International, and Global Media.’

This is his account from his website that is no longer available online.


‘November 14, 1990, ‘Bloody Wednesday’ in Swaziland still lingers as a most important moment in my life. It was the only day that I thought I surely might die. I was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Swaziland in south east Africa that year.

‘University students began boycotting classes on November 12 in protest of a lack of faculty lecturers, poor food conditions, and the suspension of a popular young sociology lecturer for promoting democracy in Swaziland.

‘Early on November 12, all 1 600 university students held a protest meeting and boycotted all classes. At noon, they dumped their plastic wrapped lunches at the administration office door.

‘The Swazi radio, and tv stations, Swaziland’s newspapers gave extensive coverage to the dumping of the lunches. Many Swazis were subsistence farmers who often went to bed hungry; thus this student decision reflected very badly on them. All students received a University notice demanding the end of their class boycott on November 13. They decided to continue it. The University Council demanded their return to classes on November 14, or be considered in defiance of the twenty-three year old King Mswati III.

‘Another student meeting on November 14 continued the boycott. About 500 students peacefully barricaded themselves in the two-storey university library. Several hundred students left campus or stayed in their student hostel area. At about 5pm, armed Swazi soldiers entered the high fenced campus.

‘A university official drove through the campus announcing the immediate campus closure. Five young women rushed to me and asked for emergency protection in my home. I took them there immediately.

‘A fifteen hour rain and thunderstorm had just begun. The young women were quite terrified.
‘The young soldiers broke into the library and the student hostels, dragging students out, beating both men and women with their night sticks on their arms and legs, and forcing them to run a gauntlet toward the front gate while the soldiers gave them sharp blows.

‘The soldiers taunted the students: “We’ll beat the English out of you.” They were especially vicious toward the women. The soldiers had been stationed that day at the high school next door to the campus and drank lots of beer before they attacked the campus, making them even more violent than otherwise so likely.

‘A neighbor warned us that at 10pm, soldiers would search our houses and arrest any students found there or on campus. Two Canadian families and I, in a caravan of three autos, took 11 frightened Swazi students in the three cars to the front gate to take them to safety.

‘With a gun pointed the first driver’s cheek, he got permission from the guard to leave the campus with the students. In the swirling rain, lightening, and thunderstorm, we took the students to safe shelters. When we returned to campus late in the evening, two soldiers were posted all night in the back and in the front of our houses.

‘With some students, I drove to the nearby hospital where more than 120 students had received emergency treatment. We visited more than a dozen badly injured students. We learned that soldiers possibly had injured as many as 300-400 and had killed perhaps as many as two-four students.

‘The Swazi radio and tv stations gave no information about what had happened after the students had dumped their food. However, the two Swazi newspapers did give the event considerable coverage over several weeks. They also printed many letters to the editor decrying the incident and called for a national judicial enquiry. Reuters News Agency and the South African press gave it some coverage.

‘Amnesty International cited it in their 1991 Annual Review. The University remained closed for two months, reopening on January 14. A national judicial enquiry, more heavily critical of the student boycott than the hostile military response, began on March 14, 1991 and ended on May 14.The enquiry panel never released any details to the public.

‘The print media called the incident ‘Black Wednesday’ but my students and I attempted to have the newspapers rename it Bloody Wednesday since so much innocent student blood had been shed.

‘I always recall that day as my worst and best day in Swaziland when much evil occurred but many good people at the campus, the hospital, and nearby clinics generously helped the students. Do these former African students, now in their thirties, still remember that day? I assume so. I certainly always do.’

Thursday, 12 November 2015


Traditionalists in Swaziland have been gloating that because ‘only’ 36 percent of people surveyed in the kingdom wanted political parties it proved the present system of autocratic monarchy was the preferred system of government. They have missed the point spectacularly. 

In Swaziland political parties are banned from contesting elections and King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, chooses the government. All debate about alternate political systems is banned in the kingdom. Meetings to discuss political reform are routinely broken up by police and security forces; prayer meetings are closed and advocates for reform are jailed. Political parties and prodemocracy groups are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The media, which are mostly state-controlled under the King, do not allow debate for political reform and schools teach the present ‘tinkhundla’ system as the ‘Swazi’ way of government. Even children at the annual Reed Dance at which ‘virgins’ dance half-naked before the King are taught to sing songs against political parties.

With all this going on, it is close to a miracle that as many as 36 percent of the population still say they want political parties. It does not take a leap of the imagination to suppose that if the Swazi people were given the space to genuinely discuss alternative political systems, the 36 percent would quickly grow to a majority and King Mswati’s absolute monarchy would come to an end.

Monarchists and traditionalists in Swaziland are dishonest about political parties. They say they bring division and chaos, but that does not stop them accepting charity and aid from nations that are multi-party democracies.

As recently as 2 November 2015, the Swazi media praised King Mswati when he returned from India with promises of business loans from that country. What the Swazi people were not told was that India is known as the largest democracy in the world (because of the size of its population) and has a multi-party system.

Taiwan, which set up numerous businesses in Swaziland to exploit the kingdom’s (now withdrawn) special trading relationship with the United States, is a multi-party system. 

South Africa, Swaziland’s neighbour and largest trading partner, is a multi-party democracy. Without the support of South Africa, Swaziland would not have an economy. 

King Mswati gladly receives charity for his kingdom from the European Union, an economic bloc that consists entirely of multi-party democracies. The United States – another multi-party democracy – also provides aid and charity in abundance. 

It is the economic and aid support from multi-party democracies that keeps Swaziland functioning. But traditionalists refuse to openly discuss why it is that all these multi-party democracies have such successful political systems that they can afford to be charitable to Swaziland, while Swaziland, where parties cannot contest elections, cannot support itself.

Tens of thousands of Swazi people are predicted to go hungry during the present drought that grips southern Africa. Swaziland will only stop its people from starving because food will be donated by multi-party democracies. 

While the Swaziland Government runs around like headless chickens unable to cope with the drought, which recurs year after year, other, multi-party democracies in the area have put in place schemes to cope with the crisis. 

In Botswana (a multi-party democracy) for example, dams and pipelines take water from areas with water to those without. Financial schemes are in place to compensate farmers when crops fail and livestock die.
The government has worked on this for years, not only because it believes it is the right thing to do, but also because it knows that if it fails the people will throw it out at the next election and vote in an alternative government to meet their wishes.

People in Swaziland have no such choice. In the Swazi system the people elect only 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly; the King appoints the other 10. No members of the Senate are elected by the people. King Mswati choses the Government: the Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini was not elected to parliament by the people, nor did they choose him to be the government leader.

There is nothing the people in Swaziland can do. It makes no difference who they vote for. Whoever they elect into parliament, the decision-making remains with the King and nothing will change.

Richard Rooney

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Soldiers in Swaziland ambushed a truck and riddled it with bullets, killing the occupant, because it would not stop when requested.

The dead man ‘had his skull and chest split open’, according to a local media report.

This was one of a long line of army killings which have prompted accusations that King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, runs a military state.

The latest incident on Friday (6 November 2015) happened on the border between Swaziland and South Africa, near Mankayane.

According to the Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland soldiers spotted a white South African registered truck ‘being smuggled through a cut fence’ in the borderline at Dwalile area, outside Mankayane.

The newspaper reported, ‘The soldiers are said to have first signalled for the truck to stop but the driver ignored their instructions, prompting them to open fire.

‘The truck did not stop and the army personnel alerted their colleagues from another base to be on the lookout for a white truck that was approaching their direction.

‘Upon receiving the message, the soldiers are said to have waited in ambush for the truck.

‘When they also failed to force the driver to stop, the army personnel sprayed the truck with bullets, some of which are said to have blasted his skull, splitting it open in the process.

‘Other bullets are said to have landed in different areas in the body, including the feet and also leaving another gash wound in the man’s chest.

‘The man died on the spot, possibly from the serious nature of the injuries sustained.’

In October 2015, soldiers put 16 bullets into a man and killed him because he would not stop his car at a road check. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported that the soldiers, ‘found themselves with no option but to open fire when a Toyota Tazz bearing foreign registration numbers was smuggled into the kingdom with the occupants failing to stop when ordered to do so’.

It added, ‘A total of 16 bullet wounds were found on the deceased’s body which the army riddled through at him as he tried to escape.’

The shooting occurred at Gege. There were two occupants in the vehicle believed to have been stolen from around Piet-Retief. The driver was killed on the spot while his colleague who also got shot managed to flee with several bullet wounds, according to the Observer

This incident came less than two weeks or so after soldiers also gunned down another suspected car smuggler near Mshololo not far from Zombodze Emuva. 

In July 2015 it was reported by Titus Thwala a member of the Swazi parliament that Swaziland soldiers beat up old ladies so badly they had to be taken to their homes in wheelbarrows. They were among the local residents who were regularly beaten by soldiers at informal crossing points between Swaziland and South Africa.

Soldiers have been out of control in the kingdom for a very long time. In January 2010 they were warned by the Swaziland Human Rights and Public Administration Commission that their attacks on civilians amounted to a ‘shoot to kill’ policy and this was unconstitutional.

In April 2013, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) condemned Swaziland police and state security forces for their ‘increasingly violent and abusive behaviour’ that is leading to the ‘militarization’ of the kingdom.

In a report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia, OSISA said, ‘There are also reliable reports of a general militarization of the country through the deployment of the Swazi army, police and correctional services to clamp down on any peaceful protest action by labour or civil society organisations ahead of the country’s undemocratic elections.’

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Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Swaziland has become an ‘open-air prison, a militarised society and a royal farm’ in which people become mere farmworkers for the King and his family, according to new research published in an international academic journal.

‘The autocratic system parasitically feeds off the labour of the poor, whose primary reason for existence is to work for the royal family and reproduce future workers of the same’, Bongani Masuku and Peter Limb conclude.

Masuku and Limb say that the education system in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is in decline and only 6 percent of high school graduates go on to further education.

‘The aim appears to be to deny wider educational opportunities and discourage various forms of critical thinking and action so that more and more people see success tied to the mercy of the King, whose propaganda is pushed on state-owned radio and exploited in cultural spheres,’ they write in the Review of African Political Economy.

They say, ‘Many rural areas lack basic services such as clean water, health facilities, schools and roads whilst the royal family and its politicians enjoy lavish lifestyles.’

Masuku, the International Relations Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and Limb, of the Michigan State University, United States, analyse the present state of ‘political freedom and democracy’ in Swaziland.

They say the monarchy ‘exercises absolute power’ through the system of governance known as tinkhundla. The royal family controls key economic sectors and has its ‘footstalls’ in the form of chiefs at community levels.

They add that key appointments of power are exclusively the King’s prerogative. ‘He appoints the prime minister, chief justice, principal secretaries and political commissions. State legal immunity, absence of political parties and suppression of the media and civil society undermine the rule of law and accountability.’


Police in Swaziland shot a man at close range after he overturned rubbish bins and then ran away from them, local media reported.

It is the latest in a long list of police shootings in the absolute monarchy.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, reported that a 21-year-old man had been suspected of throwing rubbish in the road and pelting vehicles with stones.

The newspaper said, ‘he was shot by police at close range after refusing to board their vehicle’.

It added, ‘This, after he had been fingered to be one of those who pelted vehicles with stones and further threw rubbish in the road. The bullet pierced through the man’s stomach due to the close proximity of the shooting. The incident happened in the early hours of Saturday [7 November 2015] in Ezulwini near Boma Restaurant. 

‘A witness said the shooting happened after Simanga Mnisi and his friend took to their heels when the police ordered them to board their vehicle.’

This was not the first time police have shot civilians.

In October 2015 police fired guns and teargas at workers engaged in a legitimate protest against employment conditions at the Zheng Yong Garment factory in Nhlangano. 

A plain-clothed policeman shot an unarmed man in the back killing him while on a public bus in February 2014. The man had allegedly stolen some copper wire before boarding the bus, travelling from Siteki, in eastern Swaziland to Manzini. 

The Times Sunday newspaper reported at the time the driver of the bus Majahonke Zikalala said, ‘the man was attempting to force his way out of the bus, the police officer shot him in the back, near the spine… the man fell on the floor after which he was handcuffed while he bled’. He died of his injures at the scene.

In March 2013, Swaziland police shot a man dead in front of his 11-year-old child as he held his hands up in an attempt to surrender to them.

Thokozani Mngometulu, aged 31, was killed as he got out of his car at his homestead in Dlakadla, in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland. Thokozani’s family, who also witnessed the killing, say he was shot in the pelvis at close range by a police officer.

In June 2012, a serial rapist suspect Bhekinkhosi Masina, popularly known as Scarface, was shot by police as they cornered him for arrest. Police say they only shot him in the thigh and he unexpectedly died of his injuries. The Times of Swaziland newspaper later revealed he had been shot six times, including in the head and back.

In a separate incident, a mentally ill man, Mduduzi Mngometulu, aged 34, was shot seven times by police and died of his injuries. He had four holes in his stomach, one in the leg and two bullet wounds on the left side of his chest.

These are not isolated incidents in Swaziland where police have a growing record of killing or maiming suspects before arrest. The cases have largely gone unreported outside of the kingdom itself.

In one example, police executed a suspect, Thabani Mafutha Dlamini, at Nkwalini in Hlatikulu in the presence of his colleagues and home boys in what local media called ‘cowboy style’. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported the incident in December 2011 saying, ‘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”’. Dlamini was unarmed.

In a separate case in February 2011, a Swazi policeman shot Mbongeni Masuku, described in media as a Form IV pupil, in the head in what was later described as ‘an execution-style killing’.

The killing happened outside a bar in Matsapha, an industrial town in Swaziland.

Masuku’s uncle Sigayoyo Maphanga said Mbongeni had been dragged out of his car by police. He told the Swazi Observer, a policeman whom he named, ‘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.’ 

In a separate case in May 2011, Mathende Matfonsi was shot dead by police while he was attending a field of dagga, inside the remote forests of Lomahasha near the border with Mozambique.

His family accused the police of ‘cold-blooded murder’. Matfonsi was shot dead at Ebhandeni, the same area where Nkosinathi Khathwane had previously been shot dead by soldiers at night.

The police told residents that Matfonsi fired at them and they shot back. The family said he was unarmed.

In March 2010, police shot a man as he was trying to surrender to them. This time the victim, Mncedisi Mamba, did not die. His mother, Thoko Gamedze, said Mamba had his hands up and was surrendering to police, but they shot him anyway.

It is not only crime suspects who get shot at. In June 2013, police fired live bullets and teargas as children protested against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini Police were called after school pupils boycotted classes.

Local media reported police were armed with rifles and pistols. Gunshots were fired at the pupils after police drove them away from the school, but they tried to return.

Legitimate protestors are also targets. In February 2012, a woman at a protest march in Siteki, called by vendors and transport operators over plans by the town hall to move the local bus rank, was shot in the hand as she walked away from police. Reports said she was only 2 metres away from police when they fired.

Police in Swaziland also shoot innocent bystanders. In May 2012, a student was shot in the leg by police as they tried to break up a protest at the Limkokwing private university in Mbabane. The 23-year-old was not part of the protest and was caught in crossfire, according to human rights activists in the kingdom.

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