Saturday, May 22, 2010

Swaziland, a state of lawlessness

In the wake of Cde Sipho Jele’s burial this morning, where the state and its royal police failed to disrupt the funeral, the police exhibited their frustrations on the innocent and humble PUDEMO President Mario Masuku. They quickly hatched an evil plan to detain him after the funeral.

A massive road block was hastily mounted at Luyengo, about 10 km from Jele’s home while three senior officers waited at home to monitor his movements. Upon reaching the road block, he was spotted, quickly detained and driven to Malkerns Police station. This is where he was interrogated in the presence of senior police officers namely a Mgabhi, Mbhamali, Jele, Mabuza, Dlamini and Mthembu who was leading the investigation.

He was interrogated for close to two hours while members of PUDEMO and labour leadership waited outside. Comrade Masuku was then informed that he was being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of 2008 for supporting terrorism by shouting “viva PUDEMO, viva SWAYOCO’ at the funeral.

Subsequently, he was ordered to write a statement, but he refused. The investigating officers then proceeded to write a statement for him which according to Masuku was meaningless. They then consulted Head Quarters in Mbabane on his detention and charges. Fingerprints and all his particulars were then taken.

Throughout this ordeal, visitors were not allowed until the arrival of Mr Mnisi, a lawyer. The officers disappeared for a few minutes and upon their return, Mr Masuku was informed that he was being released to the custody of his wife Thembi and son Mzwandile. However, he was warned that summons will be sent to him anytime on a date that will be decided by them.

This act by the royal police is enough evidence that Swaziland has degenerated to a pitiful state of lawlessness emanating from poor governance by the ruling regime and this must be urgently addressed by the international community including SADC and the AU. We do not wish to go through the sad experiences of both Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

As PUDEMO, we strongly condemn this act of lawlessness perpetrated by the desperate regime using its police force. It is unheard of for one to be detained, charged and then allowed to go without being admitted to bail (even free bail) and then told summons will follow “in due course.” This is blatant abuse of human rights. We wonder what more must happen in Swaziland before the international community openly and strongly address this crisis in their forums.

This case alone clearly shows why the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 was enacted. It was a tool meant to harass and suppress PUDEMO into submission and this is clearly failing! Why would the royal police pick on Mr Masuku and detain him for saying “viva PUDEMO, viva SWAYOCO”? The popularity of PUDEMO and its Youth League was so visible amongst the mourners who kept shouting the words throughout the night, but no the police decided to go for the PUDEMO President. This is a strategy of a confused state and must be strongly condemned. We call for the repeal of the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 as it is an unjust law that is used not for state security, but for purposes of intimidating and suppressing dissenting voices in Swaziland.

Head of Publicity
Zakhele Mabuza +268 7607 3453

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