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Showing posts with label women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women. Show all posts

Friday, 28 February 2014


The Swazi Observer has not said if it will pay the eight alleged rape victims it identified financial compensation.

Meanwhile, an international media ethics watchdog, iMediaEthics, has joined the growing outcry against the newspaper that later apologised to the women but shrugged the incident off as a ‘boo-boo’.

iMediaEthics has written to the Observer demanding an explanation or its huge lapse in media ethics. It also wants the newspaper to respond to a call from Swazi Media Commentary for the editor to resign.

The intervention comes after the Observer published the names of the victims as part of its coverage of the start of a trial of an alleged serial rapist. The newspaper named the women and gave details of how each of them was allegedly attacked.

After an outcry by readers the Observer published an apology to the women but said it had made a ‘boo-boo’ and a ‘snafu’ by naming the women.

It did not say whether it would pay the women compensation for publishing their names. The newspaper has not announced that it will discipline the editor or other staff member for the error. Unlike in Swaziland, in many countries it is a serious offence to name alleged rape victims. For example, in England an editor would be taken before a judge on a contempt of court charge.

The women named by the newspaper are all too poor to be able to afford to take the Observer to court. However, if they had been able to, the compensation that the paper, in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, might be required to pay out could be enough to bankrupt it.

iMediaEthics, under the headline Seriously? 8 Rape Victims IDed, Error called a 'Boo-Boo', said it had written to the Swazi Observer to ask if any of the victims complained or threatened legal action. 

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Friday, 21 February 2014


The Swazi Observer, the newspaper that published the names of eight victims of alleged rape and gave details of their attacks, has called the outrage a ‘boo-boo’. 

On Tuesday (18 February 2014) it published across its front page and two inside pages details of a court case involving an alleged serial killer. It published the names of the women, something that contravenes journalism ethics across the world. It called its report ‘a sneak preview’ of the court case.

The newspaper gave their names and details of how each attack took place. It named one woman and revealed she was a virgin.

In all of the attacks violence including a knife was used. In all cases the alleged rapist did not use a condom.

On Friday (21 February 2014), in a tiny piece, the Observer said it had made a ‘snafu’ by publishing the names.

It made an unreserved apology, but tried to pass off the outrage against the women as an understandable error and said it was ‘caught with our guard off’.

But that is not true. This was not some minor mistake like spelling someone’s name wrong. This was evidence that at the Swazi Observer they don’t know what they’re doing.

The report would have been seen by the original reporter who wrote it, a sub editor (copy editor) whose job it is to check for mistakes, possibly a headline writer, a news editor, and the editor. Not one of these ‘journalists’ spotted the mistake.

Not to publish the names of victims of rape is one of the first things a student journalist learns in school. But not one of the Observer journalists who saw the story on its way from the reporter’s computer keyboard to the published page realised anything was wrong.

In its apology the Observer wrote, ‘We believe this expression of regret or apology appropriately matches the scale of the error.’

No it does not. What disgusting indifference the Observer has shown to the women it has terrorised.

The Observer went on. ‘Indeed, the only decent thing we could do after mixing up the rules is to draw our own sword and hang ourselves’.

But that has not happened. No one has resigned. Instead, they have asked their readers for forgiveness. But, why should they give them that? They have the right to expect at least the minimum level of competence from the newspaper.

But, they have not got that. The editor should resign and if he does not, King Mswati III who in effect owns the paper should sack him.

Then the newspaper should contact the women involved and ask how many millions of dollars they must pay them in compensation?

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014


The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, committed one of the biggest sins against journalism ethics by publishing the names of eight alleged victims of rape without their consent.

The Observer published the names as part of a report on the start of a trial of an alleged serial rapist. In its report the Observer listed the women’s names and details of their attacks in what it called ‘a sneak preview’ of the case. It gave their names and details of how each attack took place. The newspaper named one woman and revealed she was a virgin.

In all of the attacks violence including a knife was used. In all cases the alleged rapist did not use a condom.

By publishing the names of the women, the Observer broke Article 15 of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) code of ethics on Survivors of Sexual Assault which states, ‘Journalists shall avoid identifying survivors of sexual assault or any information that may lead to the identification of the survivor.’

Journalists across the world generally agree that it violates the rights of rape victims to publish their names without their consent.

The Observer has been under attack for its lack of journalism standards in the recent past. In a review of press freedom in Swaziland, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) called the Observer, a ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal family’.

The Observer regularly breaks Article 1 of the SNAJ code Article 1which deals with people’s right to information. The article says, ‘The duty of every journalist is to write and report, adhere to and faithfully defend the truth. A journalist should make adequate inquiries, do cross-checking of facts in order to provide the public with unbiased, accurate, balanced and comprehensive information.’

The newspaper is on public record to say that its ‘collective stand as a newspaper is that the integrity of Swaziland as a democratic State and His Majesty King Mswati III as the legitimate leader of the Swazi nation, must never be compromised in any way.’

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


The African Union (AU) mission that observed Swaziland’s national elections has called for fundamental changes in the kingdom to ensure people have freedom of speech and of assembly.

In a preliminary report on the election just released, the AU said the Swaziland Constitution guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to freedom of association’, but in practice, ‘rights with regard to political assembly and association are not fully enjoyed’.

The AU said this was because political parties were not allowed to contest elections in Swaziland. The most recent took place on 20 September 2013.

The AU’s comments follow those of the Commonwealth Observer Mission that also observed the election. In its report on the election, the Commonwealth called for Swaziland’s Constitution to be rewritten to reduce the powers of King Mswati III, who rules as an absolute monarch.

The AU urged Swaziland to review the Constitution, especially in the areas of ‘freedoms of conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement as well as international principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral process.’

The AU called on Swaziland to implement the African Commission’s Resolution
on Swaziland in 2012 that called on the Government, ‘to respect, protect and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly.’

The AU also said women constituted more than 50 percent of the population of Swaziland and called on the kingdom to take measures and develop mechanisms to achieve increased representation of women and physically challenged persons in elective public positions in accordance with the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

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Tuesday, 6 August 2013


A Swazi woman was banned from being nominated to stand as a member of parliament because she was wearing trousers at the nomination centre.

And, a second woman at a different chiefdom was denied the chance to nominate a candidate for the same reason.

Nomination centres opened cross the kingdom last weekend (3 – 4 August 2013) as Swaziland prepared for the first round of the national election later this month.

Mana Mavimbela, aged 18, was disqualified from putting her name forward for parliament at Lubulini because she wore a pair of trousers at the Royal Kraal where nominations took place.

The presiding officer Lindiwe Sukati refused to allow her to stand because Mavimbela was wearing a pair of black jean trousers and a golf T- shirt. 

Human Rights lawyer Mandla Mkhwanazi told the Times of Swaziland newspaper the presiding officer had infringed upon Mavimbela’s rights under the Swaziland Constitution which did not discriminate against an individual on the basis of how they dressed.  

Meanwhile, Fakazile Luhlanga of Ndvwabangeni in the Mhlangatane constituency was also not allowed permission to nominate a candidate as she was wearing cargo pants.

Local media reported Luhlanga saying she was told that she was dressed like a man and would be a bad influence to the community members as they would want to emulate her.

Some chiefs across Swaziland imposed the ban on women wearing trousers, shorts or mini-skirts at nomination centres. 

Chief Petros Dvuba of Mpolonjeni in Mbabane, the kingdom’s capital, said people who would be going to the nominations should dress properly and show respect as it was King Mswati III’s exercise.  He told local media, ‘Even those who have relaxed hair should cover their heads when going to that place.’ 

The nominations were for the ‘primary election’ in Swaziland. This is where each chiefdom nominates candidates to represent it in the main, or ‘secondary election’ that will be held in September.

The election in Swaziland is mired in controversy.  All political parties are banned from taking part and the House of Assembly that is elected has no power as this is invested in King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The election is only to select 55 members of the 65-seat House of Assembly. The other 10 members are appointed by the king. No members of the Senate House are elected by the people. Of its 30 members, 20 are chosen by the king and 10 are elected by members of the House of Assembly.

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Monday, 3 June 2013


Kenworthy News Media June 3, 2013
“Pressure” and “solidarity” causes Swazi police to apologize for march ban

“The Royal Swaziland Police have written a statement of apology to the Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly,” the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice (FSEJ) said in a statement, writes Kenworthy News Media.

According to FSEJ this apology has not “come natural” and the excuse given, that “permission had been granted but there was a communications breakdown,” was not likely to be true.

Instead, FSEJ said that the resolve of the Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly (SRWA) and “pressure exerted by international pressure groups” had been the true reason for the apology.

“To us this is an example of the practical power of solidarity, not only to this matter but for the broader struggle for democracy in Swaziland.”

Last Wednesday Swazi police had banned a march arranged by the SRWA intended to raise awareness about gender-based violence in general, and more specifically to protest against a man punishing his girlfriend by stripping her naked, cutting of some of her hair with a knife and injuring her in the process, and parading her naked along a heavily trafficated road for 3 kilometres.

“The women made to walk naked for 3 kilometres by a man carrying a knife still feels alone and her voice silenced. But this time it is not because we were silent but because women who stood with her in solidarity were not allowed to even speak on her behalf,” Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly said in a press release on Thursday.

Swazi women are legally subordinate to men. In Swazi customary law, women in effect have the status of minors and cannot get a bank loan without the consent of their husbands. Women can also be fined for wearing trousers by traditional authorities.

Violence against women is widespread in Swaziland. One in three females have “experienced some form of sexual violence as a child”, and nearly two thirds of 18 to 24 years old women have “experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime”, according to UNICEF.

Generally, there has been a steady rise in violence against women in the past ten years.

Swaziland has signed the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Swaziland’s Constitution guarantees women the right to equal treatment with men – politically, economically and socially.

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One of Swaziland’s most senior traditionalists Ntfonjeni Dlamini, who once made international news for whipping virgins, has died.

The Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland said he reportedly died of tuberculosis, aged 65, but cast doubts on whether this was true by stating,  ‘It was not immediately clear how he could have died of TB, as it is a curable disease.’

Ntfonjeni Dlamini was the overseer of the Imbali maiden’s regiment. This is the group of young women, supposedly virgins, who parade semi naked before King Mswati III at the kingdom’s annual Reed Dance.

Ntfonjeni is survived by three wives and 34 children with the youngest aged eight.

His family described him as a disciplinarian. ‘He would beat us each time we strayed. He never hesitated to discipline us, no matter our age,’ one of his son’s, Lusaseni, told the newspaper.

The Times Sunday reported that Ntfonjeni Dlamini’s reign as overseer of the Imbali maidens’ regiment was characterised by controversy.

‘He was known for being a strict disciplinarian but the kingdom’s authorities retained him,’ the newspaper reported.

‘His reputation attracted a lot of criticism both locally and internationally when he hit [King Mswati’s eldest daughter] Princess Sikhanyiso, the leader of Imbali maidens after he stumbled across her at a party, hosted by the then 17-year-old that featured loud music during the Reed Dance activities in 2005.’

It added, ‘Unimpressed with what he saw, Ntfonjeni whipped the princess with a stick as she fled.’

It went on, ‘His act was widely criticised and condemned by both local and international children’s rights organisations.

‘Dr Allen Brody, then Country Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was among those who condemned it and said it was child abuse.

The newspaper reported, ‘However, his act was lauded by traditionalists such as Prince Jahamnyama who said Princess Sikhanyiso received what she had bargained for by turning such an important event (the Reed Dance) into a social gathering.

‘As he lived up to his reputation of being a disciplinarian in the ensuing years, on September 3, 2007 he assaulted a group of maidens with a stick resulting in two of them being rushed to the Lobamba Clinic.

‘The girls were Nokulunga Mamba and Calisile Tfwala of Mzimnene.
‘They could not dance before Their Majesties as they were seriously injured after the beating.

‘Mamba and Tfwala were not the only maidens who were beaten as four others were also involved but were lucky not to sustain serious injuries,’ the newspaper reported.

Swazi Media Commentary (SMC) reported on Ntfonjeni Dlamini and the Reed Dance whipping controversy in 2007. Not only were women whipped but men also.

The traditional authorities who were given the responsibility of supervising the ‘maidens’ systematically detained and whipped at least 27 young men who were caught at night trying to get close to the young women. 

The whippings were not isolated incidents, taking place over at least two days. ‘So we must assume that the detention and whipping of unwelcome visitors was an agreed method of discipline among those tasked with supervising the maidens,’ SMC reported.

Muzi Dlamini, one of the men responsible for supervising the maidens, said at the time that the men were taken to a small tent. ‘They were beaten with sjamboks and sticks. We were disciplining them and I must say they deserved such a punishment.’

In September 2007, the Times of Swaziland, a companion paper of the Times Sunday, reported that Ntfonjeni Dlamini, assaulted a group of maidens with a stick. He hurt two of them so badly, the Times reported, that they had to go to Lobamba Clinic, where one of them was treated for injuries to her right leg and bruises all over her body. The other was reported to have bruises all over her body and was bleeding on her back.

The Times reported four other ‘maidens’ were also thrashed, but were not as badly injured. 

The Times later said that the two women had reported Ntfonjeni Dlamini to the police. 

In an editorial comment, the Times said, ‘Ntfonjeni Dlamini … seems to believe he holds the right to beat up anybody’s child for no apparent reason.’ It called on ‘traditional authorities’ to take strong action against the blemishing of the Reed Dance, which it described as a ‘colourful event’ and an opportunity for Swaziland to make a bit of money from tourists.

The Times also gave an account of eight stabbings in isolated incidents at the Reed Dance. The newspaper reported that those stabbed were involved in brawls over ‘girls’.

Swazi Media Commentary at the time commented, ‘There are two themes that emerge from these stories that deserve further consideration from the Swazi media.

‘The first is the role of those in “traditional” authority and the way they are allowed to ignore the law. The Times in its editorial comment cast doubt on whether anything would be done about Ntfonjeni Dlamini and we might assume this is because in Swaziland the ruling elite relies on the upholding of Swazi traditions for their power. 

‘A legal system that places a person’s human rights at its centre would not tolerate “Swazi custom” for one moment.

‘The second is the general attitude of Swazi society to its women. Many see the annual Reed Dance as an event that cements Swazi culture, but others with a more modern outlook, believe it to be outdated and some say the Reed Dance, is old fashioned and makes a mockery of women, as it has become little more than a showcase for the king to choose a new bride.’
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Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Police refused to allow women in Swaziland to march in protest against gender-based violence.

They told the women they could not march because police and the local chief did not want any noise ahead of the election soon to be held in the kingdom.

The march at Siphofaneni was to protest at an incident in the area when a wife was paraded naked for three kilometres by her boyfriend after he accused her of being ‘promiscuous’.

The Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly responded by organizing a march in solidarity with the woman. They wanted to march for three kilometres in the area then go to a church and hold a prayer against gender based violence.

Reports from the scene today (29 May 2013) say police and the chief of the area yesterday refused permission to march or hold the prayer service.

However, SRWA decided to defy the ban and continue with the march.

Social media from Swaziland report one eyewitness saying, ‘Upon assembling and preparing for the march the police told us to go away and stop our “shit” because, “they don’t want noise here”’.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Swazi women rally against “abuse and inequality”
March 11, 2013 Kenworthy News Media

We are against “all forms of abuse, inequality, inadequate justice system and the clashes between traditional laws and constitutional laws,” a press release issued by the Swaziland Rural Women Association (SRWA) stated in connection with the celebration of the International Women’s Day in Swaziland, writes Kenworthy News Media.

According to the SRWA, the event was held “to let the rural women reassess her value and importance in the society and celebrate her achievements by highlighting all the major roles that are done by women.”

According to the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, the women at the event “disseminated information to the people, government and perpetrators of violence against women. The women [also] demand clarity as to what is government doing to uplift and empower women in the country. They also ask men as to what is it that they did to deserve such a hostile treatment from them.”

Women in Swaziland are generally heavily discriminated against. In Swazi customary law, women in effect have the status of minors and cannot get a bank loan without the consent of their husbands. Women can also be fined for wearing trousers by traditional authorities.

Swaziland’s conservative and patriarchal culture is used to condone widespread violation of women’s rights in Swaziland, even though Swaziland has signed the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Swaziland’s Constitution guarantees women the right to equal treatment with men – politically, economically and socially.

In addition to the inferior legal standing of women, one in three females in Swaziland, according to UNICEF, have “experienced some form of sexual violence as a child”, and nearly two thirds of 18 to 24 years old women have “experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime”.

Additionally, more than half of the incidents of sexual violence committed against girls are not reported to anyone, as females in general are either ”not aware that what they had experienced was abuse” or ”feared abandonment if they told anyone”, and according to Amnesty International and the US Department of State, “many men regard rape as a minor offence”. Generally, there has been a steady rise in violence against women in the past ten years.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


A women who is seven months pregnant was jailed in Swaziland, even though there were no allegations of wrongdoing or pending convictions against her, after her mother told a magistrate her daughter needed correcting.

Vuyesihle Magagula, aged 21, was sent to the Mawelawela Correctional Facility before being released by a High Court judge.

The Swazi Observer reported today (22 January 2013) that her mother went to the magistrate’s court and sought the order which confined her own daughter to prison.  

Her father, Zephaniah Magagula went to the High Court to have her released. He told the court that on 21 December, 2012 he was informed by her boyfriend that his daughter had been taken to custody at the behest of her mother, the newspaper reported.

He stated that it was his belief that Vuyesihle had been unlawfully detained against her will. Magagula had met with the Deputy Commissioner of His Majesty Correctional Services who informed him that there was a lawful order sanctioning the detention of his daughter. 

Magagula said that the Correctional Services refused him permission to see his daughter.

Justice Bheki Maphalala ordered that Vuyesihle be released.

This is not the first case in Swaziland where a person has been placed in custody although they had not committed a crime.

Last month (December 2012) it was revealed children in Swaziland were being locked up in juvenile detention, even though they had committed no crime and Isaiah Mzuthini Ntshangase, Swaziland’s Correctional Services Commissioner, was encouraging parents to send their ‘unruly children’ to the facility if they thought they were badly behaved.

Ntshangase said the action assisted ‘in the fight against crime by rooting out elements from a tender age’. He was reported saying the children ‘will be locked up, rehabilitated and integrated back to society’.

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