Mbabane: The increasing reports on acts of misconduct by the police has resulted in the Coordination Assembly for Non-Governmental organizations (CANGO) to issue out a statement calling for transparent investigations.
In a statement released by the organization in April this year, CANGO Communications Officer, Nkosingiphile Myeni, said they want clarity on the developments leading to police brutality, especially shootings. The latest police incident was that of the shooting of a 15 year old minor from Maseyisini in Nhlangano, in June.
He said the police should account to the public on the recent shooting of the minor through a transparent approach into investigations. He said the investigations may lead to the prosecution of the alleged perpetrators.
Myeni termed the police acts as wild and regrettable and hence the need on the part of the police service to strengthen its vision and mission through positive reforms. He said the nation is increasingly becoming impatient following unclear reports on the mandate of the police, which among others should be to protect than harm.
The shooting of the minor comes at the time of worldwide protests resulting from the killing of a black man in the US. George Floyd allegedly died due to shortness of breath after a Minneapolis police officer used his knee to stamp on Floyd’s throat for nine minutes. The officer was subsequently expelled from the police force while the three others await prosecution. Myeni said Floyd’s death triggered past incidents where the Eswatini police have been implicated in the death or the injury of a number of citizens, who had been seen as being on the wrong side of the law. He said protesters in the country have been victims of police brutality with the latter not coming in to account for their acts.
Myeni said it was shocking that the police can be continually silent in the midst of calls to give a report. He added that an explanation is not a question of option but a necessity.
In a separate incident, in April, the Eswatini Police Service (REPS) have been involved in fights with the Shiselweni folks during dagga raids in the region. He said he should not be seen to be condoning lawless behavior on citizens but sought responsible policing where lawbreakers would be apprehended and brought to book, than harming them.
During the raid, fights broke out and gun shots were fired. This also led to vandalized property belonging to the residents. Through their mouthpiece, deputy spokesperson, Nosipho Mnguni, the raid was lawful and part of the police job. The physical fights were only an unfortunate incident, said Mnguni. In May, the police were reported to have reinforced their force and revisited the households, looking for the culprits that were implicated in the fight with the police. An aggrieved resident, who preferred anonymity, told this publication that the conduct on the part of police had left many families in the area traumatized.
Commission of Human Rights
Recently, the Commission of Human Rights in Eswatini expressed concerns over increasing acts of violence by law enforcement agents, all in the midst of the devastating coronavirus, which, according to the commission, should be the common enemy. The Commissioner, Sabelo Masuku in a stamen released on June 9, said they were deeply concerned with the increasing reports of violence by the police, when, in fact, they should ensure the safety of citizenry in the wake of the pandemic. “Enforcement of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) Regulations should not be latitude to unleash terror on civilians,” said Masuku, adding that any force against citizens should be done with due regard to the rule of law and the respect for the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini.
Added Masuku; “The Commission, therefore, calls upon the law enforcement agents to exercise restraint while ensuring adherence to the Covid-19 regulations.” He added that officers should act within the ambit of the law in every aspect of their operation.