Swaziland soldiers beat up old ladies so badly they had to be taken to their homes in wheelbarrows, a member of the Swazi parliament has reported.
Titus Thwala said that elderly women were among the local residents who were regularly beaten by soldiers at informal crossing points between Swaziland and South Africa.
Thwala said the soldiers made people do push ups and other exercises.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported Thwala made his comments in parliament to the Minister of National Defence and Security Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze.
The newspaper reported Gamedze saying, ‘If that happened we are sorry and it will not happen again.’
This was not the first time soldiers in Swaziland have been accused of beating and torturing people. A man was reportedly beaten with guns and tortured for three hours by soldiers who accused him of showing them disrespect.
He was ordered to do press ups, frog jumps and told to run across a very busy road and was beaten with guns every time he tried to resist.
His crime was that he tried to talk to a man whose vehicle was being searched by soldiers at Maphiveni.
The man, December Sikhondze , told the Swazi Observer in 2011, ‘I only asked for a lift but they told me I was being disrespectful and that I should have waited for them to finish. They took my cell phone and ordered me to do press ups.’
He said that he did more than 50 press ups and he was beaten with guns every time he asked to rest.
The incident was one of many examples of soldiers being out of control in Swaziland. The Army, in effect, has a shoot-to-kill policy. In May 2011, three unarmed South African men were shot dead by Swazi soldiers when they were caught trying to smuggle four cows from Swaziland into the Republic.
In July 2011, three armed soldiers left a man for dead after he tried to help a woman they were beating up. And in a separate incident, a woman was beaten by two soldiers after she tried to stop them talking to her sister.
Soldiers have been out of control in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch for a very long time. In January 2010 they were warned that their attacks on civilians amounted to a ‘shoot to kill’ policy and this was unconstitutional.
There have been many accounts of soldiers killing or beating up civilians, including a cold-blooded murder of two women accused of smuggling a car across the border with South Africa; a man who had five bullets pumped into his body after being beaten to a pulp; an attack on sex workers after three soldiers refused to pay them for their services; an attack by a bus load of soldiers on a security guard after he asked them to move their vehicle; and five drunk soldiers who terrorised two boys, smashing one of them to a pulp.