Royal wife begs rescue from abuse

The 12th wife of Swaziland’s King Mswati III is pleading with the South African government to help her to escape house arrest in her royal residence, citing a litany of abuse at the hands of the royal household’s security detail.

Nothando Dube, who claims South African citizenship through her father, was restricted to her royal residence in July last year after a South African newspaper alleged that she had been caught in bed with former justice minister Ndumiso Mamba at Royal Villas Hotel outside Mbabane.

Lungile Dube blogs about the abuse of women in the name of tradition

She told the Mail & Guardian that she has not seen or spoken to the king since and that none of the members of the royal family had confronted her about the allegations, which she denies.

Inkhosikati LaDube said the royal security guards told her she was not allowed to see or interact with her family and friends.


“My side of the story was not heard. Ever since that scandal happened, we haven’t been talking with this man that I married. Things have been bad and now they are worse. I really, really want out and I can’t, he is just not letting me go. It’s like I am in prison; I am under 24-hour surveillance,” she said.

“My friends and family have been banned from seeing me and I really feel like I don’t want to be here any more because I feel like I am in jail. This is not healthy and I can’t live like this forever and I see no point of sticking around.”

She claims she has endured abusive treatment at the hands of security guards.

Aggressive

“Every time I want to go somewhere the security guards become aggressive with me. It happens about once a week, when I try to go somewhere. They literally hit me, they kick and they punch me. I am not allowed to go anywhere or see anyone. I can’t even see a doctor. If I am sick or anything, they have to come to me. My family is not allowed to speak to the king. I am also not allowed to see him. How am I not allowed to see the man that I married?”

The 23-year-old queen met the king at the birthday party of one of his children before she participated in the Miss Swaziland Teen beauty pageant. She dropped out of high school in grade 10 and became the king’s 12th wife shortly after the annual reed dance in 2004. She has three children with him. The youngest is 21 months old. LaDube said things had been good in the royal palace until she was kept a prisoner in her own house.

“The king brought me here at the tender age of 16 and not only promised to look after me but to also look out for me. I feel severely betrayed and let down. I feel he is totally disinterested in me, hence the imprisonment. I am being abused emotionally and I have suffered brutally. It seems the security calls the shots in this royal residence.

“Security is a nightmare. Instead of providing security, they tend to abuse me. If he doesn’t want me any more, he should just show me the door and let me go with my kids. I don’t see any future with him any more. I want to leave with my kids, but they won’t allow it because they are the king’s children. I take care of them, he doesn’t even know their grades or date of birth.”

LaDube said she had brought her six-year-old daughter to a Pretoria hospital last month to receive surgery for burn injuries and the security guards had refused to allow her to make contact with anyone.

“I had so much security with me because they have this mentality that I would run away because my father was South African. Because of their carelessness the residence is not well taken care of and my daughter got burned. They are frustrating my three children and me. I am a human being, I deserve to be treated humanly and not to be enslaved.”

LaDube grew up in Swaziland, but her late father was a South African and she visited him often at his home in Barberton.

Royal comment

Timothy Mthethwa, speaking for the royal family, denied that LaDube had been kept prisoner or that she had been mistreated by security guards.

“I don’t know that. If she has any problems, she must address them with the queen mother, who will then inform the king. She has a beautiful house where she lives with her three children, a maid that works for her and cars that take her anywhere she wants. I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said, and hung up the phone.

Two of Mswati’s wives, Delisa Magwaza and Putsoana Hwala, ran away from the palace and left the country about six years ago.

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Related stories

How eSwatini silences opposition activists

Activists in the Kingdom of eSwatini are routinely arrested on vague and flimsy charges

Swati editors flee to safety in SA

Independent media is under threat as authorities harass and threaten journalists

Slight decline in IEB matric pass rate

Private schools writing IEB exams obtained a 98.82% pass rate, a fractional decrease from last year

African leaders use anti-terror laws to silence journalists

Reporters in Eswatini, Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia and Cameroon have been arrested

Making media freedom in ESwatini is more than a dream

Magazine editor Bheki Makhubu, in spite of harassment from King Mswati and his cronies, is undeterred in his bid to expose the regime’s wrongdoings

FREE TO READ: Get this week’s M&G

Blurb: Read the July 5 to 11 edition of the Mail & Guardian
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

Covid-19 info lags as cases shoot up

Vital information apps and websites are outdated as cases begin to mushroom, especially near the coast, just in time for the December holidays

DA leader bought wife a car with ‘corruption’ earnings

Senior Ekurhuleni councillor Shabangu purchased a Ford SUV from an alleged R1.2-million kickback

SAA funds may need a top-up

Industry experts predict the R10.5-billion from the treasury to rescue the airline may not be enough, but the rescue practitioners say the money is enough to ‘settle the sins of the past’

Trump’s mantra of ‘fake news’ harmed media

Viewers and readers need to trust that news outlets are accurate, balanced, fair and impartial
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…