Torture in  [Swaziland]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Swaziland]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Swaziland]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Swaziland]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                            

Kingdom of Swaziland

In this small, landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp remain important foreign exchange earners.

With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and sometimes floods persist as problems for the future. More than one-fourth of the population needed emergency food aid in 2006-07 because of drought, and nearly two-fifths of the adult population has been infected by HIV/AIDS.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

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.

*** ARCHIVES ***

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.'

The state of the world's human rights

Amnesty International AI, Annual Report 2013

[accessed 10 Feb 2014]

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.

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.

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]

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.

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

2009 Edition

[accessed 1 February 2013]

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.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

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>]



Torture in  [Swaziland]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Swaziland]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Swaziland]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Swaziland]  [other countries]