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Press Release: Abduction for Ritual Practices on the Rise

May 30, 2018

The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) is deeply alarmed and distressed by recent media reports of abductions and kidnappings resulting in mutilations and killings.

Children, both girls and boys, are especially targeted; however, this does not mean adults cannot be a target in future. For this reason, all people should remain on high alert.

The fact that there are widespread speculations on whether or not these abductions are for ritual purposes linked to the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Eswatini cannot be ignored. It is frightening to consider that this is not the first time such assumptions have been made. SWAGAA is therefore extremely concerned about the culture of terror, fear, anxiety and intimidation that is increasingly common when elections are held in Eswatini. 

As a people, we cannot accept a state of being that allows such brutal acts of violence to be linked to our everyday lives and occasions. In fact, if the allegations have any semblance of truth, it is upon us to change the narrative.  We cannot have a campaign period where citizens, including children, are abducted, tortured and killed for ritual purposes. This undermines the legitimacy of our election process and threatens our integrity as a people. It is deeply saddening to note reports on children who are even afraid to go out and play, and enjoy their childhood in their own country, their own communities, and their own home environment.

We strongly condemn these brutal human rights violations and strongly suggest that this indeed is a State of Emergency.

We appreciate the efforts of the Royal Swaziland Police to investigate these matters and request for an increase in preventative measures to protect citizens from such incidents. For this to happen, all sectors need to be engaged.  Our hearts and prayers are extended to the families that have been affected so cruelly.

We appeal to all parents, guardians and caregivers to speak with their families, especially their children, about safety and how to take extra precaution. We ask that parents pay close attention to their children and their communities at all times.

SWAGAA is also appealing to the public to speak out strongly against these actions. These brutal human rights violations put into question the safety of our citizens and the health of our society. A country that prides itself on being a peaceful nation must not allow these atrocities – which implement strategies intended to incite fear among the most vulnerable – to happen.

We ask the House of Senate to enact the Sexual Offences and Domestic (SODV) Bill, in its entirety, as a matter of urgency. To delay is to allow these acts of violence to occur. Additionally, the removal of some sections from the SODV Bill will most certainly propel an escalation of these forms of violence. The SODV Bill must be enacted immediately to ensure the security and safety of all the people of Eswatini, even during the election period. The people of Eswatini deserve to live in a truly peaceful and just nation.

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SWAGAA’s advocacy work is proudly supported by the Olof Palme International Center.