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Judicial CP - September 2005
Swazi Observer, Mbabane, 15 September 2005
By Thabile Masuku
IS the state guilty of corporal punishment? This is the question that many may be asking as several children under the age of 18 are whipped everyday by uncompromising security officers whenever found guilty of petty crimes.
This is in line with the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act of 1938, which says a convicted male below the age of 18 may be moderately whipped, with a light cane, in private, by a specifically designated officer. Only the parent or guardian of the minor may be present.
Section 308, on the other hand, prohibits the whipping of girls.
This is very common at national courts. Surprisingly, the new constitution is actually against corporal punishment of children. Paragraph 30 (2) of the constitution, which includes a Bill of Rights, states; a child shall not be subjected to abuse or torture or other cruel inhuman and degrading punishment subject to lawful and moderate chastisement for the purposes of correction”.
University of Swaziland law lecturer Maxine Langwenya said she was privileged to interview some of the court presidents in the country about this, but was told “Yemntfwanami, asidlali la. Siyasebenta (loosely translated as ‘My child, we are seriously at work here and not playing’)”.
Section 12 of the Swazi Courts Act 50 of 1950 states that the court may, in addition to imposing punishment of a fine and imprisonment, inflict any punishment recognised by Swazi law and custom, provided it is not repugnant to natural justice and humanity.
“Consequently, Swazi national courts do mete out corporal punishment to boys below the age of 18. Another known fact is that these courts sometimes order that truant children be subjected to corporal punishment at the insistence of their parents and children.
“These parents do if they despair at their children’s waywardness. It is important to note that the Swazi national court does not sentence girls to corporal punishment,” Langwenya said.
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