Tuesday, September 26, 2017

BOY LOSES EYE IN ILLEGAL SCHOOL BEATING



An 11-year-old boy in Swaziland lost an eye when a cane his schoolteacher was using to illegally beat other pupils broke and splintered. It is one of a long line of abuses against children in the kingdom in the name of corproral punishment.

The boy from Ekuphakameni Community Primary School in the outskirts of Hlatikhulu was sitting at his desk in a classroom when it happened. 

The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (26 September 2017), ‘The youngster said he was not among the pupils who were being punished for urinating outside the school toilets. Instead, he said he got injured in the eye when the stick the teacher was using broke, with the broken piece flying straight into his eyeball.’

The schoolboy’s father said his son was first taken to Hlatikhulu Government Hospital where it was discovered that most of the vital parts of the eye were seriously damaged. He was transferred to the Mbabane Government Hospital where he was eventually operated on and the eye removed.

This is not the first time a child has been injured in this way. In 2011, a 10-year-old girl at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school was blinded for life in her left eye after a splinter from a teacher’s stick flew and struck it during punishment. She was injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.  

Another pupil in Swaziland was thrashed so hard that he later collapsed unconscious and had to be rushed to a clinic. Six pupils at Mafucula High school were thrashed with 20 strokes of a ‘small log’ because they were singing in class. It was reported that the boy who became unconscious was not one of those misbehaving, but he was flogged nonetheless. 

In September 2015, the Times reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.

In March 2015, a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.

In 2011, it was reported girls at Mpofu High School were being flogged by teachers on their bare flesh and if they resisted they were chained down so the beating could continue. They were said to have been given up to 40 strokes at a time. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported at the time the children said ‘that when they are beaten, they are made to strip naked on the lower body so that the teachers can beat them on bare flesh’.

One girl told the newspaper, ‘The teachers make us lie on a bench whereby if you are a girl you lift your skirt so that they can beat you on bare flesh, if you resist you are chained to the bench.’

Also in 2011, Swaziland was told by the United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review held in Geneva it should stop using corporal punishment in schools, because it violated the rights of children. 

The United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review received a report jointly written by Save The Children and other groups that corporal punishment in Swazi schools was out of control. The report highlighted Mhlatane High School in northern Swaziland where it said pupils were ‘tortured’ in the name of punishment. 

The report stated, ‘Students at this school are also subjected to all forms of inhumane treatment in the name of punishment. The State has known about the torture of students that go on at Mhlatane High School for a long time, but has not done anything to address this violation of fundamental rights.’

In 2015, corporal punishment was banned in Swaziland’s schools, but the practice continues. As recently as August 2017 it was reported that boys at Salesian High, a Catholic school, were forced to take down their trousers and underwear to be beaten on the naked buttocks.

The Times of Swaziland reported in October 2015 that Phineas Magagula, Minister of Education and Training, warned that teachers who beat pupils should be reported to the ministry so that they could be disciplined.

See also

SWAZI SCHOOL ‘TORTURES’ STUDENTS
 
CHILDREN CHAINED AND FLOGGED BARE

PROBE VICIOUS SCHOOL BEATINGS
 
SCHOOL FLOGGINGS OUT OF CONTROL
 
SCHOOL HEAD PUBLICLY FLOGS ADULTS

CANE BANNED IN SWAZI SCHOOLS

TEACHERS BEAT BOY ON NAKED BUTTOCKS

Monday, September 25, 2017

POLICE SPIES BACK ON THE STREETS



Police in Swaziland disguised as news reporters have been spying on prodemocracy activists, a newspaper reported.

It is only one incident in a long history of spying in the kingdom that includes members of parliament, pensioners and journalists as victims.

The Sunday Observer in Swaziland reported (24 September 2017) that plain-clothed undercover police were at a march of public servants in the Swazi capital Mbabane on Wednesday.

The newspaper called it ‘spying’ and said it had happened before at other public demonstrations, ‘They [police] are always plain clothed and carry traditional journalistic tools including cameras and notebooks,’ the newspaper reported.

It added police took video and still photographs of marchers. The newspaper speculated that these might be used to later track down and intimidate participants. The march was legal.

A police spokesman said they were not spying because the march took place in a public place.

Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has a long history of spying by police, Army and state forces. In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and prodemocracy advocates are prosecuted under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

In June 2017, some senior politicians in Swaziland reported fears their phones were being tapped. One also thought his car might be bugged.
 
In July 2013 it was reported that police in Swaziland were spying on the kingdom’s members of parliament. One officer disguised in plain clothes was thrown out of a workshop for MPs and one MP reported his phone has been bugged. Ntondozi MP Peter Ngwenya told the House of Assembly at the time that MPs lived in fear because there was constant police presence, in particular from officers in the Intelligence Unit. 

The Times of Swaziland newspaper reported at the time that at the same sitting of the House Lobamba MP Majahodvwa Khumalo said his cellphone had been bugged ever since he started being ‘vocal against some people’. 

In May 2013, the Media Institute of Southern Africa reported that police spies had infiltrated journalism newsrooms in Swaziland, which had led to a heightened climate of fear. 

It is legal in certain circumstances to tap phones in Swaziland. The Suppression of Terrorism Act gives police the right to listen in on people’s conversations if they have the permission of the Attorney General.

When the Act came into law in 2008 Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini said that anyone who criticised the government could be considered a terrorist sympathiser.

In 2011, a journalist working in Swaziland for the AFP international news agency reported on her blog that her phone calls were being listened in to. 

In 2012, it came to light that the Swaziland Army had attempted to buy cameras and phone monitoring equipment worth US$1.25 million. The Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) – the formal name of the Swaziland Army – was sued  in the Swaziland High Court because it ordered the equipment, but did not pay for it.

The equipment was known as GSM Option: Voice Intercept or delivery and SMS (Short Message Service) Intercept or delivery, as well as spy cameras and alarm systems, the Times of Swaziland reported at the time. 

The equipment could be used against the civilian population in Swaziland. The Voice Intercept equipment is marketed as a tool to monitor and record live phone conversations, which, according to one supplier called SyTech Corporation, the equipment can be a valuable asset to any agency and investigation. It, ‘delivers the evidence that makes the case while protecting officers’ safety’. 

The GSM equipment is designed to monitor mobile phones. This type of equipment is widely available across the world. Another supplier listed the main use as, ‘following a person’s activities and staying undetected’. 

The equipment records all information on the phone as it happens and records ‘phone events’. It can spy on SMS text messages, on web browser activities and call logs (inbound and outbound). It can also track the phone’s location using GPS.

It was, one supplier said, ‘100 percent undetectable and you can spy on unlimited [number of] phones.’

The Swaziland Army ordered equipment worth about E10 million (US$1.25 million at the then exchange rate) from Naspoti J & M Security Solutions, in Nelspruit, South Africa, the Swazi High Court heard, but cancelled the order just as the company was ready to deliver.  No reason was given to the court for the cancellation but, then as today the Swazi Government was broke and struggling to pay its bills, including public sector salaries.

The revelation came at a time of growing activity in the kingdom to force King Mswati to democratise. All political parties and opposition groups are banned and the King controls the parliament and judiciary.

This was not the first time that the Swazi ruling elite has been found trying to spy on the King’s subjects. In August 2011, Wikileaks published a cable from the US Embassy in Swaziland that revealed the Swazi Government had tried to get MTN, the only mobile phone provider in the kingdom, to use its network for ‘surveillance on political dissidents’.

Tebogo Mogapi, the MTN chief executive officer (CEO) in Swaziland, refused to comply and later did not have his work permit renewed and so had to leave the kingdom.

See also

TOP SWAZI POLITICIANS’ ‘PHONES BUGGED’

STATE POLICE SPY ON SWAZI MPs

POLICE SPIES INFILTRATE MEDIA
 
AFP JOURNALIST’S PHONE BUGGED

STATE POLICE SPY ON SWAZI MPs

SECURITY FORCES ‘SPY ON CANDIDATES’

POLICE SPIES INFILTRATE MEDIA

KING USES MILITARY FOR OWN FEUD