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MATSAMO – Heartless, degrading and atrocious! These words fall short of describing the reprehensible conduct of a soldier who allegedly assaulted and raped a pupil believed to be in an intimate relationship with another pupil.

According to the rape survivor, *Samu, 16, the soldier allegedly found them walking hand in hand with her high school sweetheart when he scorned at their actions as they had just kissed.

She said the soldier rebuked their act of passion and slapped them and further hit them with fists before he ordered them to strip and emulate sexual intercourse.

While they were emulating the intercourse, Samu said the soldier was taking their pictures in the compromising positions.
Furthermore, he is alleged to have also ordered the male pupil to walk around naked into the forest while he proceeded to rape Samu.
This incident is said to have occurred at Mlumati, which is a community sandwiched by Matsamo and Ndlalambi, in the Northern Hhohho Region.

According to the survivors of the sexual violation and humiliation, their nightmare occurred on a Saturday, after their school scheduled study time. Samu and *Mandla, both Form III pupils, were headed to a bus stop from school when they were brutally violated.

“We usually have extra lessons on Saturdays. However, on this particular day we did not find the teachers at school as anticipated.
On the Friday, we had had aptitude tests and some of us did not get hold of information that there would be no classes the next day,” Samu said, explaining why they were at school on the Saturday.

Mandla concurred with her on this saying during one of their stops, while they kissed, they were interrupted by footsteps approaching from behind.
“We realised that an adult male was walking towards us and stepped aside to let him pass as a sign of respect,” he said.
He said instead of passing, the man, who she later learnt was a soldier, slapped Samu with an open hand across the chest before pushing her to the ground.

The man is said to have demanded to know why they were wasting their parents’ money.
“He said our parents believed we were at school studying, yet we were busy fooling around,” Samu recounted.
Seeing that the situation was becoming tense, Mandla tried to flee from the scene, but was stopped before he could get anywhere.
The couple’s apologies and pleas fell on deaf ears as the soldier did not let them go but instead ordered them to shut up because.
With tears swelling in her eyes, Samu said the member of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) led them to a secluded spot, saying he wanted to discipline them.
“He said he did not want to be disturbed by people when meting out the discipline.”
“He then made me to remove my shoes and panties (underwear). He then hiked my dress before ordering the boy to lie on top of me as if we were having sex.
“He then took pictures. While taking the pictures, he said he wanted to make sure that if we tried to play smart...he would post them on social media and also show them to our head teacher. He added that he would also take the pictures to the Times,” Samu narrated. This was also confirmed by Mandla in a separate interview on a different day.
The soldier allegedly told the duo that he would go around spreading rumours that he had caught them having sex in the forest.
Samu said after taking the pictures, the man instructed Mandla, who was still naked, to get five sticks to be used for disciplining them.
Facing up in the sky, with her eyes shut tight as if trying to hold back tears, Samu further recounted that when Mandla came back with the sticks, he was ordered to go take a bath in a river which was a few a metres away.
Wiping her right eye, the teenager alleged that the soldier threatened to give her a hundred strokes on the buttocks. She pleaded with him not to beat her.
For a moment, Samu thought her pleas had touched the man’s heart because he released his foot from the chest. However, worse was yet to come.
The interview had to be stopped for a few minutes as the pupil broke down and wept hysterical while trying to speak in between sobs.
After regaining her composure, Samu continued to narrate that the soldier took off his pants then ordered her to undress.
“He then raped me without using protection,” she alleged. 
After the ordeal, Samu was allegedly instructed to call out for Mandla from the river.
Mandla said when he rejoined Samu and the soldier he realised that the sticks he had brought earlier on were broken into pieces.
“I assumed that he had beaten Samu as part of the punishment. I was also ordered to lie on the ground and he beat me on the buttocks, once,” Mandla added.
After the ordeal the soldier is said to have demanded to know the boy’s surname and more details about his family, including contact details.
“I reluctantly gave him. After that he warned us not to try to be smart by telling anyone about the punishment.”
Adding, Mandla said the soldier told them that some community members did not like him so they should not be made aware of the incident.
Mandla alleged that the army officer then walked them to the bus station, but turned back before they reached the destination.
“I then walked my girlfriend to the station. We did not say much along the way since we were both traumatised.
Samu eventually told Mandla about the rape ordeal.
“I did not believe the story. But I rushed home to change. Before I returned to the bus station, I told a friend about my conversation with Samu and the encounter with the soldier.
Mandla said they reported the matter to Ngonini police after consulting with more friends and some of their teachers about three days later.
Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed that police were aware of the matter and it was still being investigated.
He added that an inquiry had been opened.
Asked why it was taking long to make any arrest, Mamba responded that some cases rape were complicated.
Mlumati High School Head teacher, identified as Mr Ngwenya, confirmed that the matter was reported to him by some teachers who had spoken to the pupils.
“We took them for counselling. However, only the girl seems to be responding well to the counselling,” the educator noted.
He added that they were now worried about the male pupil because he did not get much counselling.
“I’m told the children were beaten. And this instilled fear in them. The man also threatened to expose them in the media that he caught them in the act,” the head teacher pointed out.
*Not their real names.

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: Emabandla
Should emabandla have also been disbanded?