Mbabane: National Commissioner of Police (NATCOM), William Tsintsibala Dlamini has condemned in the strongest terms the recent act by the Minneapolis police who killed a black man, George Floyd. Floyd was killed on May 25 after he was arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes, leading to international protests against his death and more broadly to police violence against black people in the US.
Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, leading to his death. The protests against the killing of Floyd have called for police reform, and legislation to address racial inequality in the US.
Dlamini said the Royal Eswatini Police Service was in great pain due to the unfortunate incident as Floyd’s death, and that as the police service in Eswatini they were concerned about the type of training received by its officers in the US. Occasionally, the Eswatini police send officers for training in the US. He said from the video of Floyd’s death it was clear that the officers did not apply the service’s code of conduct and ethics, which are to protect and maintain peace, more than anything.
Dlamini said part of the training received by police officers world-wide, is to know human rights and prioritise protection above all. He said officers should do everything to ensure their conduct does not result in protests, which more often than, leads to violence. “Protests usually end in damage to property, and at worst, loss of life,” said Dlamini, adding that the police are not entirely spared from dying during such unfortunate incidents.
Dlamini said he would not rule out the fact that Eswatini police have showed brutality on some citizens, some of who were innocent, and called for total elimination of such. He said they are trained to exert minimum force in relation to violence, and officers who depart from this practice are disciplined in line with the service’s code of conduct.
Dlamini said they continually remind their officers that people are not made of hard substance but flesh. “Bantfu akusiwo ematje,” said the head of the police in vernacular.
A highlight to police brutality was in 2015 when a Mozambican national Luciano Reginaldo Zavala died at the hands of the police in Manzini in what was widely seen as a glaring promotion and inculcating the culture of brutality within the police service. The have been many other claims of police brutality made by various sectors in particular the trade trade unions, who claimed being beaten despite peaceful protests.
Produce police IDs – NATCOM tells officers
On another note, the national commissioner said he would remind officers to produce police identification when seeking to conduct searches in homes. The commissioner said he condemns acts by police who storm people’s homes and demand to conduct searches without identifying themselves, which warrants them to carry on searching people’s places.
Dlamini was responding in relation to the on-going police searches in communities and homes suspected to be selling traditional alcohol with large groups of imbibers sitting in one place and enjoying their drinks. Government has prohibited large groups of people in one place in observance of the social distancing regulation. He said communities should request search warrants from officers who come to their homes, all to inhibit opportunists from taking advantage and advancing their own agendas. He said strapping a gun on the hip is not enough to prove that one is an officer, but documentation, which bears authorised signatures.