Arrested crew released in Swaziland

Two journalists arrested in Swaziland have been released, eNews Africa representative Andy Duffy said on Wednesday.

“They have been released and their equipment has been returned. They were ordered not to report anything out of Swaziland without a permit.”

He said the two, Tumaole Mohlaodi and cameraman Meshack Dube, would remain in Swaziland pending the outcome of their accreditation application to cover events in Swaziland.

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC)—a coalition of organisations inside Swaziland—condemned the detention of the two.

“We demand freedom of expression and the right for journalists to freely cover the events in Swaziland, so that the world can know that the myth of a peaceful country, unquestioningly accepting royal autocracy in the name of Swazi culture, is a fallacy and lie,” it said in a statement.

The SDC said the journalists were stopped at the Oshoek border post and escorted to Mbabane, where their equipment was confiscated.

“The crew was on its way to report about the marches taking place in Swaziland to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the 1973 king’s decree that ... enslaved and imprisoned Swazis.”

Hiding revolts
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said the arrest was an attempt by King Mswati’s regime to hide popular revolts against his regime from the eyes of the world.

“We call for the immediate release of the two journalists by the unelected and undemocratic King Mswati regime,” said spokesperson Castro Ngobese said earlier.

“We call on all democrats and activists inside South Africa to pledge their unconditional solidarity with the oppressed people of Swaziland.
Our own freedom and democracy was achieved through international mobilisation and support from the people of the world, and it is our duty as a liberated and free country to offer similar solidarity to our brothers and sisters at the hands of the royal autocracy.”

He called on the South African government to isolate Mswati’s regime until democratic reforms were introduced. The union also called on the ruling African National Congress and South African Communist Party to exert political pressure to Swaziland’s regime to unban all political parties.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa’s regional secretariat urged Swazi authorities to observe and respect the basic rights of the crew while in detention.

“The Swaziland chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa has condemned the manner of the detention and called on the Swazi government to allow freedom of expression and media freedom,” it said in a statement.—Sapa

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