A man was beaten with guns and tortured for three hours by soldiers who accused him of showing them disrespect.
He was ordered to do press ups, frog jumps and told to run across a very busy road and was beaten with guns every time he tried to resist.
And his crime? He tried to talk to a man whose vehicle was being searched by soldiers at Maphiveni.
The man, December Sikhondze , told the Swazi Observer, ‘I only asked for a lift but they told me I was being disrespectful and that I should have waited for them to finish. They took my cell phone and ordered me to do press ups.’
He said that he did more than 50 press ups and he was beaten with guns every time he asked to rest.
The Observer reported Sikhondze saying he now had bruises on his hands and that his whole body was in pain and he was struggling to walk. ‘I will never disrespect a soldier again,’ he said.
Sikhondze now wants some advice on how to should behave every time he passes near soldiers as he is afraid he might be beaten again.
The incident is one of countless examples of soldiers out of control in Swaziland. The Army, in effect, has a shoot-to-kill policy. In May 2011, three unarmed South African men were shot dead by Swazi soldiers when they were caught trying to smuggle four cows from Swaziland into the Republic.
In July 2011, three armed soldiers left a man for dead after he tried to help a woman they were beating up. And in a separate incident, a woman was beaten by two soldiers after she tried to stop them talking to her sister.
Soldiers have been out of control in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch for a very long time. In January 2010 they were warned that their attacks on civilians amounted to a ‘shoot to kill’ policy and was unconstitutional.
There have been many accounts of soldiers killing or beating up civilians, including a cold-blooded murder of two women accused of smuggling a car across the border with South Africa; a man who had five bullets pumped into his body after being beaten to a pulp; an attack on sex workers after three soldiers refused to pay them for their services; an attack by a bus load of soldiers on a security guard after he asked them to move their vehicle; and five drunk soldiers who terrorised two boys, smashing one of them to a pulp.
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