Soldiers in Swaziland (eSwatini) have been accused of assaulting a group of young people who had been having a braai (barbecue) at a private home.
It happened at Mbangweni on Saturday (11 September 2021) when a group were celebrating a 21st birthday. Soldiers heard them and demanded that they leave the home because they were breaking a curfew. When they did so they were allegedly assaulted.
This was one of a string of alleged assaults made by army personnel on civilians in Swaziland.
The Times of eSwatini reported armed soldiers entered the house and kicked open doors and assaulted people who were not involved in the celebrations, according to a participant it called Andile.
It reported, ‘Andile further narrated that the soldiers allegedly forced them all out to the tar road where they were forced to do push-ups with their fists for over 30 minutes. He alleged that while doing the push-ups, they were assaulted with a mop stick.
‘Andile said the mop stick broke and the soldiers allegedly took a thorny hedge stick and assaulted them with it. He explained that while they were doing the push-ups, the soldiers brought some of the half-cooked meat and threw it on the ground and forced them to eat it. He said some of the meat was still raw and hot from the fire.’
It added, ‘Andile alleged that some swallowed bones due to the manner they were forced to eat the meat.’
An Army spokesman would not comment on the allegations.
Soldiers in Swaziland have a long history of assaults on civilians. In September 2020 a video was widely circulated on the Internet that appeared to show two soldiers whipping two civilians. The 30-second video showed two men laying on the ground while one was whipped with what appeared to be a branch of a tree. It was reported the assault went on for several minutes.
In November 2019 a pregnant woman was slapped and thrown to the ground by two soldiers at Nsubane in the southeast of the kingdom. When she went to the army barracks to report the matter she was assaulted again.
In March 2019 the High Court ruled the army should pay E70,000 damages to a man it tortured. High Court Principal Judge Qinisile Mabuza also criticised the kingdom’s police for not investigating alleged assaults on civilians by members of the army.
In October 2018 soldiers were said to have tortured farmers who crossed the border at Dwalile to retrieve their straying cattle.
In a separate case in June 2018 three soldiers were charged with assault for burying a man alive after they accused him of stealing a phone from them at Mbekelweni.