I am living like a prisoner: Swaziland's Queen No 12

Queen Nothando Dube has said she is under "house arrest"; royal guards have banned her from contact with the King or her own family and they even assault her if she tries to leave the small palace where she stays with her three children.

"Things have been bad and now they are worse. I really, really want out and I can't, he (the King) is not letting me go. It's like I am in prison; I'm under 24-hour surveillance," the 23-year-old Queen told the 'Mail & Guardian' newspaper.

She added: "My friends and family have been banned from seeing me and I really feel like I don't want to be here any more because I feel like I am in jail. This is not healthy and I can't live like this forever.

"Every time I want to go somewhere the security guards become aggressive with me. It happens about once a week, when I try to go somewhere. They literally hit me, they kick and they punch me. I can't even see a doctor. I'm also not allowed to see him (the King)."

43-year-old King Mswati III, who has 23 children, married his 12th wife when she was just 16. They met in 2004 when the Queen attended a birthday party he hosted for one of his kids.

The Queen said: "The king brought me here at the tender age of 16 and not only promised to look after me but to also look out for me. I feel severely betrayed and let down. I am being abused emotionally and I have suffered brutally. I don't see any future with him any more."

The country's then justice minister, Ndumiso Mamba, was arrested after being discovered cowering in the base unit of a bed in a hotelroom used by the Queen outside the capital Mbabane last July.

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