Mbabane: Suspects have lost their lives at the hands of police but shockingly, they are not called to account for their nefarious deeds by their superiors.
Despite having found to have played a huge role in the dying of some accused persons, the so-called law enforcers continue to walk free and pocket tax payers in full salaries.
This has happened despite inquest findings that they were indeed responsible for the suspects’ loss of life.
National Commissioner of Police, William Ntsintsibala Dlamini was on record, confirming that the police who had been fingered to have caused death of some accused persons, through criminal act and/or culpable or negligent conduct continue to work without undergoing disciplinary hearing to answer for their alleged sins.
Dlamini was asked about the whereabouts of the two officers who were implicated in the inquest report compiled by the then Hhohho Principal Magistrate, Nondumiso Simelane, who was investigating the death of Mozambican national, Luciano Zavale. Simelane was appointed as the Corona of the inquest into the death of Zavale. The two police officers who were found to have suffocated Zavale till he died during interrogation were Detective Constable Nhlanhla Nkambule and Detective Constable Ndumiso Myeni.
The inquest into the death of Zavale concluded that he died due to the alleged conduct of the investigating officers, but according to NATCOM, those officers are still walking free and are still with the police force.
In her conclusion, Simelane said; “I am satisfied that reasonable grounds do exist for suspecting that the death of Luciano Reginaldo Zavale was caused by the criminal act and/or culpable or negligent conduct of the two investigating constables, being 6432 D/Constable Nhlanhla Nkambule and 5709 D/Constable Ndumiso Myeni.”
According to the coroner, it was clear from the evidence that when Zavale died, he was allegedly in the custody of members of the Royal Eswatini Police Service, in particular the two detective constables, Myeni and Nkambule. “What is again very clear and not in doubt is that such death was caused by the deprivation of air into the lungs (respiratory distress) through the outer orifices, being the mouth and nose.”
Simelane said she referred the matter to the director of public prosecutions (DPP) who, subject to Section 9 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act No.67 of 1938, shall take such action on it as he deems fit.
An investigation launched by Independent News into this matter unearthed that nothing was done to those officers up to date hence they are still working with the force as if nothing ever happened.
It has been established that Detective Constable Nhlanhla Nkambule was then transferred from Manzini Police Station to Lobamba Police station where he is stationed up to date.
When sought for comment, DPP said the police officers were charged with criminal act and/or culpable or negligent conduct.
Dlamini said since 2015 till to date, the police officers were still pending committal to the high court.
NATCOM said the police officers were still working and nothing was wrong with that. NATCOM said if one’s case do not go to court for over six (6) months, that particular person is allowed to go back and assume his or her duties.
Another incident which saw another civilian dying in the hands of the law enforcers, was that of Mandla Ngubeni who died in June 2004 after the police interrogated him over the disappearance of E28 000 from his place of employment.
Coroner, Magistrate Lorraine Hlophe, in a report presented to the then Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini, concluded that Ngubeni had been tortured under questioning.
“From the evidence gathered, I find that the deceased, Mandla Ngubeni, was suffocated by the police interrogating him,” the report said, although it was not established that his death was due to suffocation alone. The official cause of death was initially given as heart failure.
The inquest’s findings were turned over to the acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Mumsy Dlamini, for possible action against six police detectives involved in Ngubeni’s interrogation.
Regarding this particular case, NATCOM said before being held accountable, all the police officers who were involved in Ngubeni’s case died two years after Ngubeni’s death.
On another heartbreaking incident which saw another citizen losing his life right at the hands of police was that of Sipho Jele who was arrested and charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act on May 1, 2010 for wearing a T-shirt supporting the proscribed People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). He was taken to the Manzini Police Station and then to Sidwashini Remand Correctional Institution. He was found hanging from a beam in a shower block on May 3.
The inquest verdict delivered in March 2011 stated that Jele levitated to the ceiling unaided, tied an old piece of blanket around a beam and then around his own neck and then allowed himself to fall to the ground, thereby killing himself by hanging.
Nondumiso Simelane, the magistrate who was appointed coroner for that case reported: “Further, although there was nothing found at the scene which the deceased could have used as a platform on which to stand to commit the suicide; upon closer examination of the scene and the photos of the deceased captured at the scene, and the pathologists concluding that “it is possible for the deceased to have mounted himself upwards from the floor and then suspended himself without the use of a platform,” and that “after the ligature was applied to the beam and neck he could have lowered himself and the feet would still be above the floor.”
Simelane recorded Jele’s death as suicide and no one was connected to it.
Meanwhile, the issue of Thabani Nkhomonye who was allegedly killed by police ignited the public to seek justice for all victims who died in the hands of the police. Nkomonye’s body was found on Thursday, May 6, in a decomposed state by his family members and police who were searching for him.
Nkomonye’s picture had gone viral on social media after his family and police reported him missing and circulated a notice requesting members of the public to assist locate him.
According to the notice that was circulated widely, Nkomonye was last seen in Ngwane Park, Manzini at around 9 pm last Saturday. The notice went on to state that he had been driving a Black Mazda Demio with registration number VSD 584 AS when he went missing.
It is alleged that Nkomonye died in a police chase. Thabani’s uncle Sakhile Dlamini who spoke on behalf of the family to the Swaziland News said it is alleged that police came to the scene, towed the vehicle, and took it to Sigodvweni police station. He was quoted as saying the police claimed not to have seen his body. And for some reason, it was not recorded at the police station that the vehicle was on their premises.
Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane, Siphofaneni Member of Parliament said many Swazis were killed by the police and nothing happened to the officers, adding that the time has come for serious action to be taken.
Simelane was speaking during his visit at Nkhomonye’s homestead at Nhlambeni, Manzini where he and other Members of Parliament went to pay their respect for Thabani’s death. The MP touched on a particular case of Noxolo Mdluli, who was shot dead in 1996 and the police never accounted for her life. The MP said in all the cases where the police killed people and later investigated themselves, they never found themselves guilty.
This aforementioned people died in the hands of police who clearly applied lethal force.
In April 2013, the then Police National Commissioner Isaac Magagula said some of the cases of police brutality which were being investigated internally showed elements of arrogance and negligence.
Magagula said their (police) cases were shocking and depressing to say the least. His statement came after police were slapped with about law suits amounting to over E35 million for wrongful arrests and torture.
Alongside the killing of accused persons, police had been widely blamed for brutality. Recently, during protest action dubbed ‘Justice for Thabani’ police allegedly shot Phiwayinkhosi Dlamini in the eye at close range on Monday last week while at kaKhoza. It is further alleged that Dlamini was shot by a police stray rubber bullet while driving his car towards Matsapha.
This incident shortly follows that of police who were seen in a video clip kicking and slapping a man who was identified as a bus conductor. In the video clip, the police were heard hurling insults to the conductor.