Another Swaziland opposition activist arrested

Swazi police have arrested a 14th opposition activist for treason related to a spate of petrol-bomb attacks against courthouses and police officers late last year, officials said on Friday.

Bonginkose Dlamini, the secretary general of the opposition People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), which is demanding an end to the autocratic rule of King Mswati III, was arrested on Thursday evening at his home in Simunye in eastern Swaziland.

“Dlamini was arrested by police last night and he is expected to appear before the Manzini Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing. He faces sedition, high treason and attempted murder charges,” police spokesperson Vusi Supt Masuku said.

Pudemo president Mario Masuku confirmed the arrest.

“It is now pretty obvious that they want to arrest everyone that is linked to the organisation and we would like to condemn this as it clearly shows that they are targeting us,” said Masuku.

Twelve opposition members in Swaziland have been charged with high treason and could face the death penalty if found guilty. A 13th activist, James Nkampule, is being held in custody but has not yet been charged.

The Pudemo members were arrested in mid-December during a police sweep across the kingdom following a series of fire-bombings in October and November targeting the homes of police officers, courthouses and the home of a government spokesperson.

No one was killed in the attacks.

The men are scheduled to appear before the high court next Wednesday to apply for bail.

Meanwhile, the wife of one the suspected bombers died two days after being questioned by police.
The Times of Swaziland, quoting relatives, said she complained of chest pains after returning from the police station and later died in hospital.

King Mswati (37) has ruled by decree since he ascended to the throne at the age of 18 in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy and home to 1,2-million people, most of whom live in poverty.

The monarch, 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 in the kingdom, wedged between South Africa and Mozambique.—Sapa-AFP

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