- Serious allegations of unprofessional conduct
- Mavuso alleged that the security personnel assaulted him with a gun on his head
- Desk officer allegedly released a suspect from a holding cell while the complainant was still in dire condition
Mbabane: Serious allegations of unprofessional conduct have been levelled against one of the police commanders.
Mliba Police Station Commander, Assistant Superintendent Bheki Bhembe’s alleged questionable practices when executing his duties have been laid bare by former Mkhiweni Constituency, Maqhawe Mavuso.
The numerous strong allegations levelled against Bhembe are contained in a letter written by Mavuso dated March 7, 2021. The allegations ranges from the Station Commander’s failure to resolve cases to dereliction of duty pertaining to handful alleged illegal practices committed by police officers.
In his letter to Bhembe, Mavuso sought clarification on issues which he alleged were committed by Mliba Police officers.
Chief among the allegations, Bhembe is being accused by Mavuso for failure to resolve his case where he was allegedly assaulted by warders and members of Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) which he said happened at Luve Filling Station, failure to take action against the station’s Desk Officer who allegedly released a suspect from a holding cell yet the complainant was critical at Dvokolwako Health Centre and failure to take action against a police officer who shot and killed a suspect at Mliba Complex.
Concerning his assault case, Mavuso expressed his dissatisfaction on the mishandling of his case he reported on April 10, 2020. “When is my assault case, where I was assaulted by warders and soldiers, which happened at Luve filling Station, going to court?” reads the letter. He further alleged that some other cases reported by the public did not go to court so that complainants could get closure and justice. Mavuso complained about fairness and transparency when dealing with cases.
Mavuso alleged that the security personnel assaulted him with a gun on his head and he was in possession of a video footage proving that, adding that he was unfortunate that he was caught in a case of mistaken identity.
The former legislator said he has been a victim of injustice and said he did not deserve such treatment from the members of the security forces. Mavuso told Independent News that the warders and soldiers said he had been working as a taxi man in Luve, something he has never done in his life.
However, in his letter responding to Mavuso specifically to his assault case, the station commander did not respond in detail but only asked Mavuso to give the date on which the case was reported.
Mavuso argued that it was embarrassing for a station commander not to know when matters were reported. He said even if the station commander had forgotten, he should have checked his files instead of making excuses like the one he made.
Chief Police Information and Communications Officer (PICO) Vilakati admitted that there were two cases that were reported which touches on Mavuso, one being an assault case reported by (him) Mavuso and the other was reported against him. She said all the cases they were still pending and yet to be taken to court.
On another case the station commander is accused of not taking actions against the desk officer who allegedly released a suspect from a holding cell while the complainant was still in dire condition at Dvokolwako Health Centre, where it was discovered that he sustained severe head injuries hence he had to be operated. It was alleged that the complainant, Banele Mavuso was assaulted in the head by an unidentified man using metal object. The incident allegedly took place around May 2020.
Pinary Mavuso, the complainant’s father narrated to Independent News how the whole scenario unfolded. Pinary revealed that his son was unconscious for three days and he was later on transferred to Mbabane Government Hospital.
Pinary said he opened an assault case while his son was still admitted at Dvokolwako Health Centre and a police officer only identified as Madinane who was assigned to investigate the matter came to see his son at the hospital. Pinary alleged that Madinane saw how bad the situation his son was in and doctors had to operate him to remove blood clots which were permeated to the brain.
Pinary narrated that the suspect was apprehended and detained at Mliba Police Station. According to Pinary, a few days later, unidentified police officers from Siteki Police Station came to Mliba where they allegedly wanted to take the suspect and the docket. However, to their surprise when they went to Mliba Police Station they learnt that the suspect had been released.
Pinary said he was shocked to hear that the suspect was released without him being given a closure to what happened and for his son to get justice.
He said upon hearing the news, he contacted Detective Madinane who told him that the desk officer who was in charge by that time had released the suspect and according to Pinary, the suspect’s relative had allegedly paid a sum of E2000.
In response to this allegation, the station commander said this was an internal issue which borders around parameters of the law.
An investigation by this publication unearthed that the then desk officer who is alleged to have released the suspect was later transferred to Mankayane Police Post.
Responding to this allegation, Superintendent Vilakati, Chief Police Information and Communications Officer told this publication that the complainant and his father must approach the Police Headquarters to seek justice. She said it was not surprising though that the suspect was released because if he had admitted the offence, it was possible that he was fined right away at the court and discharged.
Vilakati said it does not mean the complainant should always be in court when a suspect appears before court more especially if the suspect pleaded guilty. She said the only time when the complainant might be needed was only when the suspect pleaded not guilty hence the suspect might need to testify against suspect.
Moreover, Mavuso (Maqawe) asked the Mliba police station commander to give answers for what happened to the police officers who allegedly shot and killed a suspect at Mliba Complex, claiming he shot at them, yet there was no firearm at the scene.
Mavuso told this publication that police had admitted that indeed they did not find a firearm at the scene.
However, the station commander said the matter was reported and attended to by officers from the Regional Lukhozi Unit. “I may not be privy to the information suggesting that the officer concerned acted outside the dictates of the law such that he/she discharged the fatal shot without following the law governing the officers in the discharge of their day to day duties,” the station commander said.
Win this regard, Chief PICO asked to check the case but by the time of going to print, she had not reverted to us with a response.
Another case that the former legislator wanted clarity on was that of two (2) children who drowned at Mnjoli Dam on December 23, 2020. Mavuso alleged that police were called to the scene and they saw the children but left them on the scene. Mavuso said the police were supposed to take the children for further investigations, which include conducting post-mortem to identify if indeed the children died due to drowning.
Mavuso told this publication that police left the bodies lying idle, claiming that they did not have a car to take them to a pathologist. He said eventually, the bodies were taken to the mortuary by one resident with her personal car. The car that was used to ferry the bodies was described as a black VW Tiguan with registration numbers known to this publication but could not be revealed for safety purposes.
Mavuso added that one of the children was buried at Mankayane while the other was buried at Shewula.
Confirming the incident, was the mother of one of the deceased, who asked that her name should not be revealed due to the sensitivity of the matter. Sonto Dlamini* said she was very disappointed about the way police handled the situation, adding that they presented themselves as heartless because they left her alone with two lifeless bodies. She said the police made an excuse of not having a car, claiming that the one they were driving was not allowed to ferry the children to the mortuary.
However, station commander Bhembe denied these allegations, labelling them as blue lies. He told the ex- MP that as a former legislator he should know why and when pathologist are called to the scene.
Responding to this incident, the Chief PICO admitted that police attended to the drowning incident and it was the relatives of the deceased persons who offered to transport the bodies with their own personal car. She, however, added that she will do a throughout investigation to find out if everything was done accordingly.