Swazi police accused of torture as victim sues them


JOHANNESBURG, June 1 (ANA) – A former Lugogo Sun Hotel supervisor told the Swaziland High Court police tortured her to try to make her confess to theft. Phindile Mndzebele said she was handcuffed, beaten, almost suffocated to death, and threatened with hanging.

Mndzebel is claiming $60,000 in damages from the Royal Eswatini [Swaziland] Police Service after stating that her complaints to the local police commander were ignored, forcing her to go to court.

Swazimedia.blogspot reported that the house-keeping manager was arrested when a number of items and cash were reported stolen from a room.

She stated that she was taken in a police vehicle to a nearby mountainous forest where five officers forced her to sit on a grass mat while her hands were cuffed.

Mndzebel alleges the police then attempted to suffocate her three times until she soiled herself. One officer said she would hang if she did not give up the stolen items. She has denied the theft accusations.

The ordeal ended when the officers were called away to other duties.

Doctors who examined her said muscles on her back were swollen following the assault and Mndzebel is currently receiving counselling.

Reports of police torture are common in Swaziland. The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), in a report on Swaziland published in May, stated the Swazi State, “continues to be either actively involved in, or turn a blind eye to, torture”.

It added “reports of suspects dying in police custody, workers assaulted by state police, suspects shot and killed by the army, as well as suspected poachers tortured and killed by game rangers and private farm owners have come to characterise law enforcement in Swaziland.

“Amnesty International reports that, in June 2015, a Mozambican national living in Swaziland, Luciano Reginaldo Zavale, died on the day he was arrested on allegations that he was in possession of a stolen laptop.”

In August 2015, independent forensic evidence indicated that he did not die of natural causes. An inquest was established to investigate the death, but its findings have never been made public.