Friday, July 7, 2017


Rape victims in Swaziland say their plight is not being treated seriously by police and often they are simply dropped off at hospital and made to find their own help.

This comes at a time when there have been 1,082 rapes reported in Swaziland since 2015. Swaziland is said to have the fourth highest rate of rape in the world.

The trauma associated with reporting a rape case is causing some people to turn back and deal with their ordeal on their own, local media reported.

A nurse at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital told the Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland (2 July 2017). ‘Children, even adults, leave after waiting for assistance for hours and I cannot say I blame them.’

The newspaper detailed one rape victim who reported her case to police and was taken to hospital wo hours later.

The newspaper reported, ‘On arrival, she was dropped off at the emergency gate from whence she had to find her way through the hospital after the police pointed her to the general direction.’

Not knowing the correct procedure she waited in line to be examined by a nurse. The Observer reported, ‘In the midst of the patients waiting to see nurses was a schoolgirl, in full uniform, dirty and beaten up, also an alleged survivor of sexual assault. It was only after several hours of waiting, in her bloody and mud caked clothes that the survivor was assisted and taken to the Gender Based Violence (GBV) Unit ,which was recently constructed.’

A teacher at a primary school in the outskirts of Manzini told the newspaper she had assisted a pupil who had been attacked on her way to school and took her to hospital. ‘The process of getting the rape reported is traumatising the survivors,’ the teacher said. ‘The confusion and helplessness that comes with such violation is further confounded by the process that it takes for one to get assistance.’ 

The teacher added, ‘On reaching the hospital, having secured transport on a taxi, we were told to go to the police station first in order to enable her to be attended as assault and rape cases only get attention after being reported to the police.’ She said they were sent from one police post to another and finally had to wait two hours before being taken to hospital.

The teacher said, ‘If the experience was this traumatic for me as a person assisting, how much more those who go to the police without assistance and get haphazard reception?’

According to the National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula 1,082 rape cases were reported in Swaziland since 2015. He told a gender based violence campaign organised by the Catholic Church Commission for Justice and Peace (Caritas) in Hlatikulu on 1 July 2017 rape could be tackled by doing away with apathy and the culture of silence which fuelled such crimes.

Rape is common in Swaziland and often goes unreported. Rape of a wife by her husband is legal in Swaziland under Indigenous Swazi Law and Custom. A man can also legally rape his lover. This is contained in a document called The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2013) compiled by Professor Frances Pieter Whelpton, a Professor of Law at the University of South Africa and delivered to King Mswati III.

The Times of Swaziland reported (3 August 2016) , ‘Under Chapter 7, which addresses offences (emacala) in Swaziland, rape is said to be committed only if the woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.’

In 2015, a report from A US organisation ABCNewspoint stated that Swaziland had the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. It said there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among 100,000 people.

Rape and sexual abuse of children is common in Swaziland. In 2008, Unicef reported that one in three girls in Swaziland were sexually abused, usually by a family member and often by their own fathers - 75 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were known to the victim.

Many men in Swaziland believed was all right to rape children if their own wives were not giving them enough sex. In 2009, men who were interviewed during the making of the State of the Swaziland Population report said they ‘“salivate” over children wearing skimpy dress codes because they are sexually starved in their homes.’

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Thursday, July 6, 2017


Aspiring members of the Swaziland Parliament have been warned that bribing voters is a serious offence. It could bring them a two-year jail sentence or a fine of not less than E10,000 (US$760).

This is the message from the kingdom’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) as it tours Swaziland holding a series of ‘voter education’ sessions. Swazis go to the polls in 2018 at a date yet to be announced by King Msawti III who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch.

Bribery is rife at election time and takes many forms. In 2013 at the last election Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini said it was alright to accept a bribe, as long as people did not then vote for the person giving it.

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time (1 July 2013), ‘He said people can accept the “brown envelope” (bribe) from those illegally campaigning for the national elections.

‘He said the electorate should not even turn away free food offered to them, but should eat to their heart’s content. However, when the time to vote comes, they should not choose such characters.

‘The PM was responding to concerns raised by senators about some individuals who had already started campaigning through holding thanksgiving parties and offering food among other items to members of their communities.’

Political parties are banned from taking part in the election and people stand as individuals. Often their main campaign message is that they can bring much needed development to a community.

Ahead of the 2013 poll, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, said in an editorial comment (30 May 2013) that when EBC Chairperson Chief Gija Dlamini ‘was asked about the sudden proliferation of Good Samaritans countrywide as the elections beckon, he jocularly answered that it was a boon for the poorest of the poor, who would be getting free meals and comfy blankets.’

The Observer commented that when an MP ‘presented his chief with a “brand new second hand vehicle,” Chief Gija also observed that this was a good deed indeed, as that subject had realised that the father figure in the community was struggling to get from point A to B to deal with matters only he could, and such a gesture was a genuine display of the reverence that particular subject held for his leader.

‘He could not come out clear on the question of the timing of such generosity, in light of the upcoming polls.

‘It would seem the floodgates of blatant electioneering cloaked in a veil of newly discovered generosity had been swung wide open. Soon, the country was awash with Mother Theresas who were splashing money to vulnerable citizens and doling out cheap-quality blankets. Others slaughter chickens, pigs, goats and even hard to come by cattle, in a bid to outdo Jesus Christ as they re-enact a poor imitation of the feeding of the multitudes, all for a slice of the honourable status cake.

‘As the madness continues, the world looks on, as the rush for obvious votes stolen off gullible voters continues, and say; “what a farce!”’

The previous election in 2008 was riddled with bribery. After the poll Swaziland’s Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini said that candidates bribed voters to win parliamentary seats. He was reported saying there had been ‘a lot of mischievous deeds done by the candidates’.

Dlamini did not give details but was quoted in the Swazi Observer (25 September 2008) saying, ‘There are a lot of things that happened but I cannot be specific since that would seem I am attacking people.’

Dlamini said people declared publicly that they were given money to vote. He said that was not the way to win in an election and added the candidates knew what was expected of them but they continued to break the law.

‘Giving people money is against the law and the candidates know that but they continue defying the law’, the Observer quoted him saying.

Despite his own evidence to the contrary, Dlamini said that, all in all, the elections were free and fair.

Former cabinet minister Mfomfo Nkambule has said it was an ‘open secret’ that some of the MPs paid voters to vote for them. At the 2008 election, he said the danger in this was that a government of people who buy favours was being created. 

His assertion was supported by several court applications in which candidates complained that their competitors had paid voters. In one case, an election winner was said to have distributed E50 [a week’s income for more than 70 percent of the population] to each voter whilst in another incident one was alleged to have distributed E10 to voters.

In September 2008 it was reported that one losing candidate Celucolo Dino Dlamini in Kukhanyeni told voters they would not be getting the kombi (small bus) he promised them, because they failed to elect him.

As reports emerged about bribery during the 2008 elections. The Times of Swaziland was so angry about the malpractice it has called many of the new MPs ‘cheats’.

In an editorial comment (30 September 2008) the newspaper said, ‘We no longer have an election; we have a selection of those who were able to buy their way into power.’

The Times went on to say that the new MPs would be ripe for bribing. ‘From what we hear, corrupt MPs are there for the taking as they seek to recoup their “expenditure” on the election campaign. None of the MPs we have spoken to wish to come on record for reasons we only see as putting themselves up for the financial rewards on offer. What a shame. Individuals have pledged their first salary, plots and other gains to the MPs. The whole process has simply gone rotten and can best be described as a sham.’

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Schools across Swaziland are pleading with businesses and members of the public to donate food for starving children because the Swazi Government has failed to pay its bills.

A crisis has been growing over recent months and there are fears that children might die as a result.

The situation grows worse with each passing day, school principals said. It started at the beginning of the year when the Government failed to deliver food to schools as part of an established feeding scheme. It said it did not have the money to buy food.

The hardest hit, according to local media, are primary schools because they completely rely on government for financial assistance since the introduction of the Free Primary Education programme. 

The Swazi Observer reported (29 June 2017) the Swaziland Principals Association (SWAPA) met with the Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula without any positive results, ‘because government is facing money problems at the moment’. 

Magagula confirmed to the newspaper that nothing tangible came out of the meeting to find a solution to the food crisis.

It quoted SWAPA President Welcome Mhlanga saying schools were asking ‘the nation, companies and organisations to come to the rescue and save the situation’. 

He said, ‘The situation on the ground is worsening with each passing day. There are pupils that kept coming to school because of the food but now that there is no food some are choosing to stay away.’

The newspaper added, ‘Mhlanga said the situation was dire and it was time for all to help.’

Last week the Times of Swaziland reported school administrators had sent a number of requests to government, asking it to act fast on the matter because they feared that they would soon start losing lives due to hunger in schools. 

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population were in need of food assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in thought to be OVCs.

It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five.

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