Monday, 26 May 2014
Monday, 19 May 2014
Monday, 5 May 2014
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Sipho Jele, the Swaziland democracy activist who died while on remand at Sidvwashini Correctional facility, asked to be sent there because he feared being ‘tubed’ (tortured and suffocated) if he was sent back to police custody, an inquest into his death heard.
The Swaziland Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini said she was pleased to hear this because it meant Jele had not yet been tortured while at the police station. Dlamini told the inquest as far as she knew the only reason why Jele wanted to go to Sidvwashini was his fear of torture by police.
A jailor, Assistant Superintendent Richard Mthukutheli Fakudze, told the inquest he found Jele hanging from a concrete bar in the bathroom of his prison cell at about 5am on May 3 and he just knew Jele had killed himself. While he gave his testimony, he was interrupted by Prosecutor Phila Dlamini who warned him to only say what he observed and desist from giving an opinion. Fakudze had conclusively said Jele hanged himself yet he found him hanging. Said Dlamini, ‘If you insist that he hanged himself, you are actually saying that you saw him tying the blanket around his neck and hanging himself.’
The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported that two police officers gave ‘contradictory submissions’ about how Jele was arrested at a Workers’ Day celebration.
The Times reported, ‘One glaring anomaly was revealed by witness number three, Constable David Tsabedze, who, despite proof that he had recorded Jele’s health on the night of May 1, 2010, the officer denied ever doing so. Another anomaly is that despite that the suspect was brought to the police station at 5.30pm on May 1, he was only placed in a police cell at 11pm and no one could come forward to state what was happening in the meantime.
‘He was also taken out of the Manzini Police Station’s cell for interrogation purposes for hours on different occasions and one of the officers says it is unclear whether they also took him out of the building.’
Sunday, 4 October 2009
Some of the mystery surrounding the reason for the acquittal of Mario Masuku on a terrorism charge has been lifted.
Mbutfo Mamba, the High Court Judge who halted the trial only five hours into a trial that was expected to last several days, says the prosecution’s case was ‘hopeless’.
In his formal ruling he said that the prosecution claimed that Masuku, the President of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), contravened the Suppression of Terrorism Act when after a failed bomb attempt he told a funeral gathering ‘they will continue with the bombings’.
The judge said the prosecution failed to make clear who the ‘they’ referred to in the statement were.
Put simply, the prosecution failed to provide evidence that the words Masuku used were actually an incitement to anyone.
The judge’s ruling adds to the humiliation heaped on to the Swazi Government when the case was halted last month (September 2009). The High Court was faced with incoherent statements by witnesses and what even the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, called ‘a series of dramatic errors.’
The Swaziland Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini was particularly at fault in presenting a dire case.
In his ruling Judge Mamba gave the government a lesson in English grammar on the wording of the indictment.
‘It is, unfortunately, not a model of clarity. It offends against one of the primary rules of English grammar. It uses the pronoun “they” without any first reference to the object to which it refers. In short, it does not explain who is referred to as “they” – the persons who will continue with the bombing of the government vital structures and installations.’
He went on, ‘[Witness 4] did say in his testimony in re-examination that the accused used the words “we shall continue the bombing” of government structures. This was, however, clearly an afterthought and a desperate attempt to mitigate or ameliorate the hopelessness of the evidence by the Crown.
‘All the three crown witnesses testified that the accused called the deceased a hero. His heroics or heroic deeds were not spelt out or stated. The matter would certainly have been much different had the accused said he was a hero for bombing government structures. There is no evidence that he said so.’
So, humiliation heaped upon humiliation for the Swazi Government. We can all have a good laugh, but we can’t be complacent. The Swazi Government may be stupid, but my God it’s still dangerous.
For more details of the ruling click here.
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Masuku, president of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) was speaking to the Voice of America radio station after being released from jail on terrorism and sedition charges.
A High Court judge released Masuku on Monday (21 September 2009) within hours of the start of his trial which was expected to last several days. High Court Judge Mbutfo Mamba halted the trial after being presented with ‘poor quality of evidence’ by the prosecution led by Swaziland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini.
Masuku had been on remand in a maximum security prison after being accused of making statements in support of terrorism against the Swaziland state, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Masuku told VOA he was not angry with the Swazi monarchy. ‘I do not feel aggrieved I hate nobody who has accused me of that. Instead, it is the system of governance which is undemocratic, un-participative, un-representative, and distorting our course,’ he said.
Masuku described his unwavering commitment for demanding democracy.
‘I feel it is only my duty to exert more pressure and go to the finish,’ Masuku said. He said despite the ban, he would uphold the principles of PUDEMO.
‘Unfortunately, fighting as peaceful as possible within the condition for a democratic, un-nepotistic, un-racial Swaziland is an idea and the principle that I joined this party for. And as long as I still exist, it is the principle I will go along with,’ he said.
Masuku said there is room for both democracy and monarchy to exist side-by-side instead of the country's absolute monarchy.
‘Really, there can be a multi-party democracy with a monarchy in place. But you can never have absolute monarchy and multi-party democracy. Those things cannot tie,’ Masuku said.
He said Swazis must have the right to choose their leader.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
It has made Swaziland ‘the laughing stock of the world,’ the newspaper says.
In an editorial today (23 September 2009) the newspaper attacks Swaziland’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mumcy Dlamini for bringing a case against Masuku that had no merit. The case was thrown out by a High Court judge only five hours into a trial that was expected to last several days.
The Times says, ‘For a case that has done so much harm to this country, we are appalled at the dismal quality of the evidence brought before court and rightly dismissed by the judge. It was such a shameful attempt at justice.’
It goes on, ‘The amount of negative publicity drawn upon this country is unforgivable to say the least. We expected a high profile defence for a high profile case.’
The Times says Swaziland deserves that this be the last time ‘we have to deal with such mediocrity otherwise we shall continue to be the laughing stock of the world with the unfortunate consequence of losing all the international friends we need to revive this ailing economy. If we can’t take ourselves seriously, who will?’
To read the full editorial click here.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Masuku, president of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), had been in jail on remand for 10 months since November 2008 after his arrest for allegedly making statements at a May Day rally to incite people to terrorism.
The state’s evidence against Masuku was so poor that the trial that was expected to last several days lasted no more than five hours.
High Court Judge Mbutfo Mamba halted the trial after being presented with ‘poor quality of evidence’ by the prosecution led by Swaziland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini.
The High Court was faced with incoherent statements by witnesses and what even the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, called ‘a series of dramatic errors’.
According to the Observer, five witnesses had presented their evidence before Judge Mamba halted the trial, including police superintendent Mike Zwane, the officer in charge of investigating Masuku.
Evidence brought to the court by the first witness Sithembiso Shongwe was dismissed because it was irrelevant.
Judge Mamba ruled that the evidence was inadmissible because Shongwe kept telling the court about activities planned by PUDEMO in meetings that were held in South Africa.
It turned out that Shongwe was himself in custody on an undisclosed charge and was escorted from the court in leg irons after he gave his evidence. Shongwe claimed to have been trained by the PUDEMO military wing, Umbane. He said Umbane’s main objectives were to engage in guerrilla warfare so that the government could be forced to the negotiating table and allow democracy in Swaziland
The case descended into farce when one witness, owing to poor sight, spent about two minutes trying to spot Mario Masuku in court.
The Times of Swaziland reported Kwanele Dlamini, from Siteki, was asked to identify Masuku from the people in court and requested to move out of the witness stand to try and spot him. Dlamini then went around the court room, looking and inspecting at all the people who were present in court, trying to find Masuku. He was even misled by some of the people in court by jeering and shouting that he was not present, but the determined Dlamini looked at almost everyone before spotting Masuku seated at the accused dock.
During cross examination, according to the Observer, another witness Banele Dlamini made jumbled statements and kept on contradicting himself during cross examination. When advocate Norman Kades asked probing questions on Masuku’s utterances, he said he could not possibly remember everything because the accused had made a long speech.
Advocate Kades observed that the witnesses had conveniently remembered aspects about Masuku’s utterances on terrorism which would seem to favour the interests of the crown. Mbambiseni Maseko who was also brought before the court as a witness also contradicted himself.
Masuku had been charged with contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) after he uttered statements to the effect that PUDEMO would continue with the bombing of vital government structures in Swaziland last year at the funeral of the late Musa Dlamini who was killed during a bomb blast at Lozitha bridge.
The state, uncertain it could force a conviction under the STA had an alternative charge under the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act of 1938.