A member of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) has been arrested and charged with the rape of his 16 year-old daughter and indecently assaulting his 13 year old niece.

Mandla Tfumbatsi (43), from Moneni, is currently out on bail after being arrested for impregnating her daughter and indecently assaulting a 13 year old child by touching her private parts. Meanwhile, members of the CPS have gone on a wild rampage at the University of eSwatini where they have stabbed and hunted down student leaders aligned to the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) and weaponising rape as a tool to shut down political disagreements. Sources at the university claim that about 10 members of the CPS have given a stern warning to young SNUS female leaders promising to rape them ‘for commenting on things they do not know’.

There is panic at the University of eSwatini after three students were raped by three men taking advantage of an unlocked door that had been reported faulty to the authorities at the University of eSwatini. SNUS has taken issue with the rape of the three students and will be protesting. Ntfumbatsa’s rape on the other hand has been kept as a ‘secret’ by the CPS and has made student leaders at the country’s three campuses to believe that the CPS rape threats are not to be taken lightly.

Community members at Moneni where Tfumbatsa grew, speak in hushed tones about how the young girl, name deliberately withheld, was repeatedly raped by her father until she fell pregnant. “The problem started when she went to Nhlangano where her mother stays and reported that she was pregnant. Upon enquiry, her mother then discovered that it was her father that was behind this,” said a neighbour who preferred anonymity. Ever since the girl was discovered to be pregnant, her mother decided to open a court case and have him arrested. He was eventually arrested about two months ago and only but recently got bail.

Students at the University of Swaziland have told The Bridge that the modus operandi of the CPS within the political circles on campus is to be disruptive, rowdy and violent. Threats of rape, the students say, is the CPS's latest arsenal. “On Thursday the group of CPS came to Mbabane campus and threatened to beat me up. Police came and took them for questioning, then released them the following day,” recalled one of the student leaders at SNUS who was attacked by CPS at the Mbabane campus. She said she could positively identify the ring leaders as CPS members because he knew some of them. SNUS leader said last Thursday she received a call via a private number threatening to deal with her.

They say because I stay with my boyfriend they will come and rape me in front of him so that he can feel the pain too. Prior to that, I had received a threatening call from one Samkelo Ndlangamandla , a CPS member from Kwaluseni, who promised to deal with me for ‘commenting on things I do not know. Then almost coincidentally, I received a call with the same threats from a private number this time threatening me with rape,” Ndlela said.

Ndlela added that the caller who made rape threats said, “you are easily accessible, we know where you stay. We will come and rape you.” The tension between SNUS and the CPS started in last year’s elective conference where the CPS aligned candidates were defeated by what they called a ‘PUDEMO take over’ of the student union. They attempted to collapse the conference and failed and the tensions boiled from there leading to a meeting at Kwaluseni where a CPS member was assaulted by students for disruptive behaviour in a student meeting. “They then went to a conference where they took a resolution to beat up SNUS and PUDEMO leaders. They made a hit list of the people to beat. The good thing is that one of their members then officially announced this vigilante campaign on social media. And then the CPS guys went to Luyengo campus to abduct one of the PUDEMO guys in two quantum and assaulted and stabbed him before dumping him around Kwaluseni. This was the context of the growing tensions leading to the May day mayhem,” explained a student leader knowledgeable about the situation.

A member if the CPS based in South Africa was once arrested for rape around 2011 and this fueled fears by SNUS members that threats of rape are real. “Those boys are vulgar, violent and very disrespectful. I can assure you the threats of rape are not to be taken lightly. I am counting days before they rape someone,” continued the student. CPS’s spokesperson Pius Vilakati said they condemned rape and all forms of sexual crimes and called for the justice system to give priority to all cases of rape for justice to prevail. Commenting on the CPS member alleged to be out on bail for incest Vilakati denied Ntfumbati being a member but acknowledged that he had attended party events in the past, particularly their political schools in 2012.

Otherwise the CPS expects its members to conduct themselves in society with the highest level of discipline,” continued Vilakati. He also condemned the rape threats and said they are unable to be of help as some of these threats were cloaked in anonymity and therefore difficult to pin to their members. “We must investigate the matter and specific names of alleged perpetrators would make the task easier. Speculations are unhelpful in this regard,” continued Vilakati.

SWAGAA’s Hlobisile Dlamini condemned the use of rape threats as a ‘weapon of war’ and expressed disappointment that this was coming from a camp that they looked up to redefine the gender landscape in the country. “Rape is about power. It reflects who has power in society and how that power is exercised. It unmasks the power imbalance in society hence women are the victims of rape. It is therefore disappointing that so early in our political disagreements we are now resorting to rape as a form of political tool,” continued Dlamini.