Eswatini Daily News
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‘OSSU officers brutally assaulted me’

The unlicensed firearm found at Sabelo Sibandze’s homestead.

By Nokunceda Magagula

SABELO Sibandze from Mahhwalala, who faces accusations of possessing an illegal firearm, asserted in court that he was set up and subjected to a brutal assault by police officers from the Operations Support Service Unit (OSSU). Sibandze made these allegations at the Mbabane Magistrate’s Court when presenting his defence during his trial on Monday.

Sibandze took the stand and informed the court that on June 26, 2023, he was operating his work vehicle and while driving near Build It in Mbabane, he noticed two approaching cars, a Ford Ranger and a Toyota GD6.

He narrated that one of these vehicles blocked his path, forcing him to come to a halt. He recounted that two individuals emerged from the Ford Ranger, one of them brandishing a firearm, and insisted on searching his vehicle for any illicit items.

They directed him to sit on the ground during the search. Sibandze stated that during the search, one of the individuals claimed they had received a tip about his possession of a firearm.

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Denying the allegations, Sibandze asserted to the individuals that he did not have a firearm. It was at this juncture that OSSU officers escorted Sibandze into one of their vehicles and transported him to a sports ground near Christian University, where he claims he endured a severe assault.

Following the assault, Sibandze asserted that he was taken to his residence in Mahhwalala, where a thorough search was conducted, yielding no incriminating evidence.

However, the officers persisted in their assault, asserting their intention to locate the firearm. Sibandze stated that the officers returned on July 2, 2023, for a second search of his residence.

During this search, they discovered a firearm inside the microwave. Sibandze continued to assert that the firearm belonged to his neighbour, which ultimately led to his subsequent arrest. Testifying in the case, the investigating officer confirmed the discovery of an unlicensed firearm in Sibandze’s possession.

Hlatjwako informed the court that on July 2, 2023, around 4 a.m., they received intelligence information regarding Sibandze’s possession of a firearm.

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Hlatjwako explained that acting upon this report, he and two other officers sought assistance from the Operations Service Unit before proceeding to Sibandze’s residence. There, they found Sibandze and another individual named Nothando inside a room. The OSSU officers secured the premises and subsequently searched.

Hlatjwako indicated that they informed Sabelo of the information they had received about the firearm. Sabelo did not deny the presence of the firearm and directed them to the microwave, where it was located.

Hlatjwako personally examined the firearm to confirm its authenticity. He also apprised Sabelo of the Judges’ rules before proceeding to arrest and charge him with possession of a firearm and two live ammunition rounds without a legal permit.

Following the arrest, Sabelo was transported to the Mbabane police station for formal charging and detention, pending his court appearance. Both the firearm and the microwave were presented in court, with Hlatjwako positive ly identifying them as exhibits.

The accused raised questions about the OSSU uniform, noting that the individuals who came to his house were dressed in black attire, which deviated from the standard OSSU uniform. Hlatjwako clarified that the OSSU wear different uniforms for various operations.

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