Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Swaziland’s Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini is to appeal the High Court ruling that sections of the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Sedition and Subversive Act are unconstitutional. 

Now, the decision reached by High Court Justices Mbutfo Mamba and Jacobus Annandale on 16 September 2016 will not take effect unless the Supreme Court determines the matter.

The notice of appeal was filed by the office of the Attorney General on Friday (23 September 2016). No grounds for the appeal have been made public.

The High Court justices had ruled that the Acts contravened provisions in the Constitution on freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer; Maxwell Dlamini, Swaziland Youth Congress secretary-general; Mario Masuku, president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and Mlungisi Makhanya, PUDEMO secretary-general, brought four actions against the Swazi state.
Responding at the Swazi High Court were the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General.

Justice Mbutfo Mamba and Justice Jacobus Annandale ruled that various sections of the Acts were inconsistent with the Constitution. They said S14(1)(b) of the Constitution, ‘guarantees and declares freedoms of conscience, expression and peaceful assembly and association as fundamental human rights’.

The applicants had been charged with offences under the Suppression of Terrorism Act because they are members of PUDEMO which is a banned organisation in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The judges’ ruling stated, ‘They were found wearing T-shirts and berets of such organization and also chanting its slogans.’

The judges also stated that the Act did not describe what a terrorist was. ‘Generally speaking, most of the offences criminalized as terrorist acts in the Act are covered by ordinary criminal law,’ they stated.

The judges stated the fact that the applicants had been charged for their involvement with PUDEMO, ‘is plainly a matter that affects or impacts on their right to freedom of association and opinion.
‘For whatever reason, their views on the policies, aims, ideals and objectives of PUDEMO have drawn them to it. The wearing of any apparel of paraphernalia associated with PUDEMO, may or may not, depending upon the particular circumstances of the case, be said to be a crime under the Act.

‘The bottom-line in these proceedings, however, is that their association, involvement with this organization or entity has resulted in them being charged under the Act. In a word, they have been told, PUDEMO is a specified [banned] entity, and your belonging to it or chanting its slogans and wearing its apparels is a crime in terms of the Act.

‘Clearly, their rights to freedom of association and opinion are adversely affected by this.’

The judges also stated that the law or regulations that declared PUDEMO a banned entity interfered with the constitutional right to freedom of association, but such rights were not absolute and they may be subject to certain restrictions or limitations.

The judges stated that the applicants who were members of the banned PUDEMO were, ‘declared, in effect, terrorists or at least persons engaged or involved in terrorist acts or criminals before they are given the opportunity to be heard on the issue. This cannot be right. It is against the rules of natural justice or procedural fairness or administrative justice that a person be condemned before he has been given the opportunity to be heard on the issue under consideration.’

A third High Court Justice Nkululeko Hlophe made a dissenting judgement.

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Monday, September 26, 2016


A 16-year-old boy in Swaziland has been kept in solitary confinement for five months, although he has not been sentenced for a crime.

He had been granted bail of E2,000 (US$145) but his family have been unable to raise the money, so he has had to stay behind bars.

The boy admitted stealing five pairs of sneakers, worth E4,000.

The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (21 September 2016) that he had been serving time in a solitary confinement cell for about five months. It reported the boy saying, ‘I miss school and I might go mad in that cell all by myself. I do not care what happens to me now as I have already suffered enough for all my sins.’

He has been kept in the solitary cell at the Pigg’s Peak Correctional facility, because he is too young to be detained with adult prisoners. 

He was originally arrested on 23 March 2016. His father appeared before the Pigg’s Peak Magistrate’s Court to request bail in July. It was set at E2,000 by Senior Magistrate Siphosini Dlamini. But, the newspaper reported, the boy’s father could not raise the bail money, forcing the minor to continue his time in jail. 

The minor will re-appeared in court on 3 October for sentencing.

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Friday, September 23, 2016


Police in Swaziland are to investigate themselves after reports that officers ambushed and tortured striking workers.

An unnamed senior officer was reported in the Swazi Observer newspaper saying, ‘We as the police have opened an inquiry of our own over the allegations made against our officers.’

It relates to reported attacks by police on workers at the Plantation Forest Company, near Pigg’s Peak. The newspaper said two investigations had been started, one of them independent of the police.

The Observer reported on Tuesday (20 September 2016) that the senior office said, ‘everybody involved, be it the police officers or the workers themselves were all under investigation’.

Meanwhile, the Swaziland Agriculture and Plantations Workers Union (SAPWU) want to open individual assault cases against police officers, following the alleged assaults on Friday 9 September 2016.

General-Secretary Manqoba Dlamini said, ‘We intend opening various assault cases against the police. This is because the violation by police happened at various times during the strike, but the Friday’s assaults were severe and most shocking. That fateful Friday, police picked up five females and assaulted them in a secluded location and further accused them of arson attacks at the Plantation Forest Company sports field,’ he said. 

Dlamini said the names of the police officers involved in the alleged assault were known to them. 

Dlamini also said SAPWU intended to alert the International Labour Organisation (ILO) of the strike action by workers of the Plantation Forest Company. He said, ‘The poor working conditions suffered by workers coupled by the low wages topped off by attacks by police have to be told to the international community. Worth noting is that the assaults that happened on Friday started as a labour dispute that turned ugly,’ he said. 

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