Swazi police vow to catch firebombers

Police in Africa’s last absolute kingdom of Swaziland vowed on Monday to find those responsible for two firebomb attacks branded as terrorism and linked to a banned opposition party.

A courthouse in Mbabane was damaged in the early hours on Friday in a petrol-bomb attack that followed another firebomb lobbed at the home of government spokesperson Percy Simelane. No one was injured in the two attacks.

“We condemn this and we would like to assure Swazi citizens that as police, we will leave no stone unturned,” said Inspector Sabelo Dlamini, spokesperson of the Royal Swaziland Police, on state radio.

“This is an act of terrorism. As members of the police force, we will not allow such a thing to happen,” said Dlamini on Radio Swaziland.

A pamphlet bearing the logo of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) was found at the site of the courthouse firebombing.

“The pamphlet that we found in one of the buildings will help us follow leads in order to make arrests,” Dlamini said.

Pudemo president Mario Masuku denied that his group was responsible for the attacks, but he warned that patience is running out in the kingdom over the failure of the monarchy to reform.

King Mswati III (37) has ruled by decree in this kingdom wedged between Mozambique and South Africa since he ascended to the throne at the age of 18.

The Swazi king, who recently picked his 13th wife, in July signed into law the kingdom’s first Constitution, which preserves his sweeping powers and maintains a ban on political parties.

“As an organisation, we want to set the record straight that we are not responsible for this and we would like to condemn it in its strongest terms,” said Masuku.

“Our logo might have been abused so that police can link us to the spate of bombings,” he said.

But he noted that “some pockets of Swazi society’s patience is running out as a result of the government’s failure to engage those people who called for a national Constitution”.

A spate of bombings in Swaziland in October 1998 blew apart a bridge and killed a security guard near the prime minister’s office.

Parliament was also partly damaged in a bomb attack in 2000 that was claimed by a group called the Mashekeshe (Ants) People’s Army.

There was also a minor attack on government offices in Mbabane in early August and in the southern town of Nlangano two weeks ago.

There have been no arrests in connection with those firebombings.

Swaziland has one of the world’s highest HIV/Aids infection rates and more than 65% of the 1,2-million inhabitants live on less than $1 a day.—Sapa-AFP

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