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Cops tortured us over Scarface' - residents

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SIPHOFANENI – As the manhunt for alleged rape suspect Bonginkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina drags on, some residents have levelled accusations of torture against police while interrogating them.

The police are being alleged to have assaulted, detained shop owners and residents of Siphofaneni and Phonjwane areas for allegedly aiding the suspect in a New Year’s eve operation.

The residents claimed to have been beaten, choked using bread plastic bags while others alleged to have been shot at during the police crackdown.

The complaints have since been formally reported to the police.

Eyewitnesses allege 40 armed police officers invaded the homesteads on New Year’s eve at Siphofaneni and Phuzumoya areas demanding that residents name the whereabouts of the wanted Masina.

The Times of Swaziland spoke to seven residents who all told of different accounts of alleged police torture.

The residents alleged that the police visited them just before the break of the new year.

Travelling in two Toyota Quantum kombis, the police would assault, grab private parts while pointing startled residents with firearms.

In all the incidents, the police are said to have accused residents of helping ‘Scarface’ evade the long arm of the law.

Stories that ‘Scarface’ could be getting help from his community have also been published recently by the Times.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Wendy Hleta confirmed that there are residents who have registered complaints that they were not pleased with the conduct of the police. She said they would look into the complaints.

‘Scarface’ has been on the police’s most wanted list since the end of November 2011.

He doesn’t deserve to be killed, says MP Gundwane

SIPHOFANENI - Sipho-faneni Member of Parliament Gundwane Gamedze has said though ‘Scarface’ has cases to answer for he does not deserve to be killed.

Gamedze was speaking after it was alleged that residents in his constituency were being harassed by the police.

"What will eventually happen is that he may die as the search intensifies, because if they are harassing people here it shows the level of the operation. ‘Scarface’ has cases to answer for, but he does not deserve to die, he should go to jail, do his time and come back to be part of our society," said Gamedze.

He added that he was on Sunday told that ‘Scarface’ was seen at Mphaphati bar. Gamedze said the tips of information that are flooding the armed forces could lead into incidents where civilians could be hurt.

"Harassing people will lead to a futile exercise because residents will hold back information, and that will be counterproductive. Residents will think they are safe when they say nothing, than risk the wrath of the armed offices," said Gamedze.

Some claimed harassment incidents dated to even three weeks back.

 

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