Thursday, November 16, 2017


A new report that more than 11,000 children in Swaziland are forced to stay away from school to tend cattle is only the tip of an iceberg in child exploitation in the kingdom.

A draft Report on Child Labour In Herding In Rural Areas of Swaziland published in the Times of Swaziland on Thursday (16 November 2017) revealed 11,329 children between the ages of eight and 17 were not attending school because they were engaged in herding. Of these, 1,917 were aged between eight and 12 years. 

Children reported they were kept away from school because parents or guardians could not afford school fees or they had to work to help pay family debts.

But the report failed to uncover the full extent of forced child labour in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

A report on forced child labour in Swaziland from the United States Department of Labor covering 2016  identified what it called ‘categorical worst forms of child labour’ widespread in the kingdom as livestock herding, domestic work, farming and market vending.

It said Swaziland was ‘complicit in the use of forced child labour’. It concluded Swaziland made ‘no advancement’ because ‘local chiefs continued to force children to engage in agricultural and domestic work.

‘Penalties for refusing to perform this work included evicting families from their village and confiscating livestock.’

The Department of Labor said Swaziland had  signed a number of international conventions on child labour but they had not been enforced.

The report said children were being trafficked outside the kingdom to neighbouring countries such as South Africa, ‘for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in agriculture and domestic work’.

It also said some Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland and become victims of human trafficking and are forced to conduct street work and herd livestock. Lubombo and Manzini were said to be the worst regions for forced child labour.

The report said, ‘Swazi children have become increasingly vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor due to the high prevalence of HIV, low economic growth, and high poverty levels.’

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Game rangers in Swaziland shot dead a man hunting food for his family and wounded another in the latest example of the kingdom’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against poachers.

The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Wednesday (15 November 2017) the men begged for their lives but the rangers shot them anyway.

It happened near Somntongo in Lavumisa. The dead man was named as Caiphas Mpisi Zwane. The newspaper said he was in a hunting expedition with a friend Mxolisi Tebe Mbhamali on 10 November 2017. 

The newspaper said, ‘It is said they were seen trespassing by rangers who then followed them as they were leaving with game that they had already killed. 

‘Zwane was gunned down by the rangers while his friend also got shot but he managed to flee with the bullets lodged in one of his legs.’

The Observer said that following the recent drought that killed livestock people have been hunting game to survive and have been trespassing onto private land.

The newspaper said the two were spotted by rangers but it was too late for them to flee.

It added, ‘Having managed to apprehend the two poachers, it’s unclear what actually then led to the rangers decided to shoot them. 

‘The two tried to reason with the rangers where they asked for forgiveness, but the rangers opened fire, hitting the target.’ 

It said, ‘Reports are that as the rangers opened fire which thundered all over the area, their bullets hit Zwane on the thigh and also riddled him near the stomach, killing him instantly.’ 

Other bullets hit Mbhamali on one of the legs but he managed to escape.

Police are reported to be investigating the incident.

In May 2017 it was reported that game rangers shot dead a ‘mentally challenged’ man they suspected of poaching at Inyoni Yami Swaziland Irrigation Scheme (IYSIS), Sihhoye. The Swazi Observer reported at the time rangers shot the man who had lived all his life on the roadside and was known to the rangers who assaulted him and ‘finished him off as he ran for dear life’.

The newspaper called it ‘cold blooded murder’.

It came at a time when a United Nations’ group was questioning Swaziland about a law that gives game rangers immunity from prosecution for killing any person suspected of having poached and just after Survival International reported Swaziland ‘appears’ to have a shoot-on-sight policy that allows game rangers to kill suspected poachers.

The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) questioned the Swazi Government about the Game Act (No. 51/1953) as amended in 1991, which gives conservation police personnel (game rangers) immunity from prosecution for killing any person suspected of having poached, in line with the Covenant, and to train game rangers in human rights.

In April 2017, Survival International wrote to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, saying Swaziland ‘appears’ to have a shoot-on-sight policy that allows game rangers to kill suspected poachers.

In its letter it said, ‘We say “appears” because usually the policy is not defined by any law, or even written down.  As a consequence, nobody knows when wildlife officers are permitted to use lethal force against them, and it is impossible for dependents to hold to account officers whom they believe to have killed without good reason.’

Stephen Corry, Survival International Director, said the shoot-on-sight policy directly affected people who lived close to game parks and guards often failed to distinguish people hunting for food from commercial poachers.   

There has been concern in Swaziland for many years that game rangers have immunity from prosecution and can legally ‘shoot-to-kill’.

In 2016, the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) reported to a United Nations review on human rights in Swaziland, ‘There are numerous cases where citizens are shot and killed by game rangers for alleged poaching as raised by community members in several communities such as Lubulini, Nkambeni, Nkhube, Malanti, Sigcaweni, and Siphocosini.’

In January 2014, Swaziland’s Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula said rangers were allowed to shoot people who were hunting for food to feed their hungry families.

Magagula publicly stated, ‘Animals are now protected by law and hunting is no longer a free-for-all, where anybody can just wake up to hunt game whenever they crave meat.’ 

He told a meeting of traditional leaders in Swaziland, ‘Of course, it becomes very sad whenever one wakes up to reports that rangers have shot someone. These people are protected by law and it allows them to shoot, hence it would be very wise of one to shun away from trouble.’

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017


A male head teacher of a school in Swaziland has been arrested and charged for allegedly beating an 18-year-old female pupil on the buttocks with a black pipe.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (14 November 2017) that the woman who it did not name was beaten because she had not had her hair cut as instructed by the school.

In Swaziland corporal punishment is banned in schools. As an 18-year-old the woman is legally an adult.

The newspaper, the only independent daily in the kingdom, reported she was left with ‘serious injuries’ to her buttocks and hand. She attended Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital for treatment. It allegedly happened at Lozitha High School.

Corporal punishment is widely used in schools although it was banned in 2015. In October 2017 it was reported the Swaziland Government was being sued for E2.5 million (US$185,000) after a child was maimed by a teacher who was dishing out corporal punishment.

Former Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Training Pat Muir told this to a workshop on ‘positive discipline’ designed to sensitise ministry officials on alternatives to corporal punishment. He also said that the Ministry of Education and Training had a number of cases in all regions of the country where teachers have been accused of assaulting pupils under the banner of corporal punishment. 

As recently as September 2017 it was reported that an 11-year-old boy from Ekuphakameni Community Primary School in the outskirts of Hlatikhulu lost an eye when a cane his schoolteacher was using to illegally beat other pupils broke and splintered. 

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