A female police officer, two warders, a banker, and several other civilians were beaten to a pulp by members of Umtfubo Eswatini Defence Force for breaking the army imposed curfew.

 It gets juicer; they were set up for this hour long torture by Khayelihle Dlamini, boyfriend and baby daddy to the King’s firstborn daughter, Princess Sikhanyiso. Dlamini's motivation for setting the army against the civilians was allegedly to get back to one of the people he had a long-standing dispute over girls.

Attempts by the warder and police officers to plead for mercy were met with dismissive jibes from the army officers who told them that it was exactly because they were police officers and warders that they were being given the hiding. “Nicabanga kutsi ningagcoka lamashethi lamhlophe nati konkhe,” said the army as they repeatedly beat the police officer and warders.

All this happened on 16 October 2021 at around 9pm around Mahlabaneni in Big Bend. This was at the height of the second wave of democratic protests in the country. Nontokozo Mdluli*, one of the victims, narrates it like a tale how they were from a local watering hole when they found the road barricaded by burning tyres and decided to wait at KaGoboyane until such time that the fire had subsided.

They were travelling in two cars, each with at least six passengers, including the police officer and two warders. “Our suspicion was that the road was barricaded after a recent protest, so we stood there waiting for the fires to die down. It is while waiting that we saw a white Audi and we flagged it down to stop so we alert him that the road was barricaded ahead. The car stopped and returned on our instruction,” Mdluli narrated to The Bridge.

It is then that they realised the person they had alerted of the danger ahead was Khayelihle Dlamini, a soldier and also father to Phikolezwe Dlamini, the son of the King’s first born daughter and Minister Princess Sikhanyiso.

Dlamini turned back and found soldiers who were patrolling around and told them that there was a group of people starting a fire along the road. He said they could be identified next to the road in two cars.

Incensed soldiers returned to find Mdluli and his friends still parked waiting for the fire to die down.

There were about 20 soldiers if I am not mistaken and they beat all of us like dogs. I think it went on for about an hour because almost everyone wanted a piece of us. I am talking of a  thorough beating," said Mdluli.

Among the people beaten was an employee of eSwatini Bank whose condition was so terrible to a point that he had to be admitted in hospital.

While the army was beating the civilians Dlamini, on the other hand, took a stone and hit the windscreen of the cars, unknown to him that one of the people had hidden inside the car and witnessed everything.

What I think he (Dlamini) didn't know was that there was someone inside the car who was hiding. So he thought he would not be seen because the rest of us were being beaten by the soldiers far removed from our cars. When we came back we found the windscreens broken. We learnt it was Dlamini who had done this. Apparently, he had a long beef with one of the passengers over girls,” continued Mdluli.

The now badly beaten civilians had to go to hospital and some were treated and discharged save for the eSwatini Bank employee who had to be admitted for a few days. One of the owners of the damaged cars went to Mbutfu army station to report Dlamini and managed to get her car repaired. She was given money to pay for the damages after her story was verified by the army but was told to keep this under wraps

One of the owners of the cars went to report Dlamini to his superiors who investigated and determined that Dlamini was on the wrong and decided to pay for the repair of the windscreen," continued Mdluli.

The owners of the cars, known to this newspaper but whose identity will not be revealed, was told to keep this story under wraps as the army had agreed to pay her compensation. Mdluli said what shocked them was that when they went to the police to ask for a report they were told they cannot open a criminal case against the army.

The Bridge has been alerted that some of the victims struggled to get medical attention because they needed a police report. The eSwatini Solidarity Fund has stepped in and written to the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) Secretary General Mayibongwe Masangane asking that they help victims without asking for a police report.

Mandla Dlamini, the current National Convenor of the eSwatini Solidarity Fund, has confirmed that they have written to the nurses to ask that they assist the army’s victims without asking for a police report especially given what is happening currently.

Dlamini said oftentimes many people who are beaten by the army for one reason or another are unable to get a police report that the nurses need before they treat patients. Attempts to get a comment from the army hit a snag as their Public Relations Officer was not available when called.

*Not real name to protect victim

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