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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                  

Kingdom of Eswatini


Physical abuse of suspects and inmates by law enforcement officials is an ongoing problem, and investigations into such abuse lack independence and transparency

  [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Swaziland

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Swaziland.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Swaziland

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 9 August 2021]


In February, Bongani Kunene of Moyeni alleged that during an interrogation police beat him and placed a plastic bag over his head. During the year there were scattered reports of police brutality towards those alleged to have violated COVID lockdowns. In one pending case, a police officer was arrested and charged with attempted murder for shooting a teenager in the arm after having fired his weapon to disperse a group of teens who were contravening COVID regulations by playing soccer during the partial lockdown.

There were isolated reports throughout the country of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment by “community police”–untrained, volunteer security personnel who exist outside the country’s formal legal structures and are empowered by rural communities to act as vigilantes, patrolling against rural crimes such as cattle rustling. In November 2019 a group of community police severely beat five suspected thieves on their buttocks and paraded them naked through the street as punishment.


Pretrial Detention: CHRPAI stated lengthy pretrial detention was common, with the majority of pretrial detainees incarcerated due to shortages of judges, prosecutors, and courtrooms; a weak case management and coordination system; and a lack of access to legal representation. As of December the 845 pretrial detainees was approximately 21 percent of the total prison and detainee population. A 2018 survey of detainees by CHRPAI concluded that 245 of them had been awaiting or undergoing trial for 12 or more months.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 18 May 2020]


Physical abuse of suspects and inmates by law enforcement officials is an ongoing problem, and investigations into such abuse lack independence and transparency. Some prisons also suffer from overcrowding and other harsh conditions. Rangers tasked with combating game poachers have been accused of improper use of lethal force, and several deaths were reported during 2017, but the law grants rangers immunity from prosecution for such killings.

Police Torture Suspect to Death'

Swazi Media Commentary (Gaborone), 13 June 2015

[accessed 21 June 2015]

[accessed 2 January 2018]

Swaziland police killed a suspect by suffocating him during questioning, a newspaper in the kingdom has reported.

The killing happened on Friday (12 June 2015) at the Manzini police station.

The Swazi News, an independent newspaper in the kingdom, where media censorship is the norm, reported that the man 'was suffocated using the now infamous technique known as "tubing".'

The newspaper reported, 'The police took the man who worked as a barber to assist them in an investigation at about 8:30am yesterday [Friday] and a few hours later, he was reported dead. The police officers, as they led the suspect away, had warned his work mates that he would not return.

The newspaper said the man was being questioned for being in possession of a stolen CD writer.

Police 'Torture Political Activists'

Swazi Media Commentary (Gaborone), 22 April 2013

[accessed 24 April 2013]

[accessed 2 January 2018]

Two political activists arrested at an election rally in Swaziland have been tortured by police, the kingdom's Communist Party says.

In a statement, the Communist Party of Swaziland said the two men were taken by a special police squad to police HQ in Mbabane, the kingdom's capital.

The statement said, 'Information is coming in that the two comrades are undergoing an intensified torture session at the Police headquarters in Mbabane , this is a violation of the normal procedure recognized internationally that when a suspect is apprehended he /she is kept in a police station and charged within 48 working hours.'

The statement said the police HQ had 'special interrogation chambers which are well equipped for torturing suspects'.

The police have kept the two men in isolation and not allowed them to speak to lawyers.

More Police Torture in Swaziland

All Africa, 31 January 2013

[accessed 1 February 2013]

[accessed 2 January 2018]

The woman told local media in Swaziland she was in bed at 11pm when police arrived at her home demanding she tell them the whereabouts of her husband who was wanted on criminal charges.

'I explained to them that I did not know where he was and this seemed to irk them and they got violent,' the woman said.

The Swazi Observer newspaper reported, 'They then dragged her out of the house and threw her inside the kombi. She said she was not given a chance to dress up and she found herself leaving from the house with only a kanga around her waist and was barefooted.'

She told the Observer, 'I cried for mercy to no avail. I was pushed, kicked, slapped and shoved around while being threatened with death if I did not co-operate.

'They later tied me against a tree and told me to say my last prayers. I even wet myself due to fear as the officers took turns torturing me.'

The newspaper reported, 'She said among them was a female police officers who kicked her in her private parts and other sensitive parts of her body. She was also "showered" with a bucket full of cold water, which made her shiver more and she felt like vomiting.'

Policing and Human Rights -- Assessing southern African countries’ compliance with the SARPCCO Code of Conduct for Police Officials

Edited by Amanda Dissel & Cheryl Frank, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum APCOF, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-920489-81-6

[accessed 25 March 2014]


No police official shall, under any circumstances, inflict, instigate, or tolerate any act of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of any person.

Allegations of torture and degrading treatment committed by the police continue to appear in the local press. In Mbabane, police were alleged to have tortured a 15-year-old boy after his mother had reported him for stealing SZL85. The boy alleges that he was beaten with a slasher (tool for cutting grass) and a knobkerrie (club) for five hours. While enduring this pain, he was told that instead of crying, he must count the strokes aloud for the police to hear. At some point he was threatened with a gun. 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.  Amnesty International reported on the death of a political activist, Phumelela Mkhweli, who died after apparent assaults by the police after they arrested him. The US Department of State reported on many allegations of torture and ill-treatment by police during 2011, including ‘beatings and temporary suffocation, using a rubber tube tied around the face, nose, and mouth, or plastic bags over the head’.  No convictions or punishment of police officers for these offences was reported during the year.

The United Nations’ Country Team (UNCT) working on the UPR process noted that while the Constitution provided protection against inhuman and degrading treatment, there were allegations of the police using interrogation methods in contravention of this provision with some of them resulting in death. It also noted that there has been no successful case holding police responsible for brutality.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - Torture and other ill-treatment remained a concern, with a High Court judge in April calling for a commission of inquiry into repeated allegations by accused in criminal trials that they had been subjected to torture, which included beatings and suffocation. Deaths under suspicious circumstances and the failure of the authorities to ensure independent investigation and accountability continued to cause concern. Police and members of the military were implicated in the reported incidents.

On 12 March 43-year-old Lucky Montero was kicked and beaten in the head and body by soldiers at a border checkpoint. He died 12 days later in Mbabane Government Hospital from medical complications arising from his injuries.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 14 January 2019]

Scroll Down



Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 7   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 1 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

According to the U.S. State Department, there were numerous incidents of police torture, beatings, and suspicious deaths in custody in 2008.Security forces generally operate with impunity. Inthe last four months of2008, the army was deployed to man checkpoints throughout the country due to unrest, and new army camps were set up in parts of northern Swaziland believed to be sympathetic to PUDEMO. Prisons are overcrowded, and inmates are subject to torture, beatings, rape, and a lack of sanitation. While the new constitution prohibits torture, the ban is not enforceable in court.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 1 February 2013]

[accessed 5 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law does not specifically prohibit such practices, although under the Prisons Act correctional facility officers may be prosecuted if they engage in such procedures; however, government officials employed them. Security forces used torture during interrogation and abused their authority by assaulting citizens and using excessive force in carrying out their duties.

There were credible reports that police beat criminal suspects and occasionally used the "tube" style of interrogation, in which police suffocate a suspect by using a rubber tube around a suspect's face and mouth. According to media reports, police also used the "Kentucky" method of interrogation, in which the arms and legs of a suspect are tied together and then the person is beaten. The government took no action against police or soldiers accused of abuse.

On May 10, a 16‑year‑old student was admitted to the hospital in critical condition after police detained and interrogated him for stealing a cell phone. He said that police squeezed his testicles during the interrogation. Majaha Dlamini sued a USDF member for a June 6 attack in which he sustained serious injuries on his testicles and open wounds on the back and hip. Stephen Thwala said that police suffocated him by the tube style of interrogation after his August 17 arrest for assaulting a policeman.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Swaziland",, [accessed <date>]