Prominent Swazi activists jailed for criticism of judiciary

Bheki Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazing and Thulani Maseko, an executive member of Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland, have been in custody since their arrest in March.

Judge Mpendulo Simelane said the two-year sentences were meant to be a deterrent to other journalists.

It was becoming a habit in Swaziland for journalists to write “scurrilous” articles which were “reprehensible and unacceptable to right-thinking members of society”, he said.

The Nation published articles co-authored by the two men that were critical of the chief justice and suggested he may have abused his powers.

Criticism of absolute monarch King Mswati III and his government is outlawed and courts have come down hard on perceived opponents.


Judge Simelane said he would show no leniency to Makhubu and Maseko because they had not shown any remorse during the trial.

He pointed out that in an emotional moment during court proceedings, Makhubu referred to him by his first name, which was unacceptable and a sign of being remorseless.

Simelane also described Maseko’s conduct during the trial as “disgusting”.

He said Maseko was playing to the international gallery by making statements critical of the ruling regime.

Maseko’s international supporters were doing him a disfavour by encouraging him to criticise the king and the whole system of governance, the judge said.

He described the human rights lawyer as a disgrace to the legal profession.

This prompted Maseko to shout from the dock “Amandla!”, winning the response “awethu!” from political activists in the public gallery.

Maseko’s wife, Tenele, says defence lawyers are considering whether or not to appeal the sentence. She says her husband is “content” because he believes his case has focused attention on human rights concerns in Swaziland. – Sapa-AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

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.

Sapa
Guest Author

Related stories

Exiled Swazi editor speaks out

Zweli Martin Dlamini’s nemesis — a powerful businessman — was murdered in Mbabane, but the controversial journalist is still too scared to go home

Nkandla ruling is a short, sharp lesson in democracy

The Constitutional Court’s judgment on Jacob Zuma's Nkandla demonstrates the difficulties facing the continent, argues Bheki Makhubu.

Swazi court orders release of editor, human rights lawyer

The Supreme Court in Swaziland has ordered the release of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and editor Bheki Makhubu.

‘SA must act on Swazi rights crisis’

Jailed lawyer Thulani Maseko feels the wrath of the system he slammed, but remains undeterred.

Jailed Swazi critic put in solitary confinement

According to his supporters, jailed lawyer Thulani Maseko has been put in solitary confinement last week for a total duration of three weeks.

Swazi attack on press freedom is an attack on democracy

AmaBhungane condemns the recent conviction of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and Swazi lawyer Bheki Makhubu
Advertising

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Fees free fall, independent schools close

Parents have lost their jobs or had salaries cut; without state help the schools just can’t survive

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

White men still rule and earn more

Women and black people occupy only a few seats at the JSE table, the latest PwC report has found
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday