Bongani ‘Sigcokosiyancinca’ Dlamini risked his career and ties with the King by saving my life after senior police officers led by the late Sam Mthembu were unleashed to arrest and subsequently poison me in prison.
Our relationship with Sigcokosiyancinca was far beyond the fact that we were Dlaminis and journalists, he had elevated me to be his personal advisor whenever he faced challenges at Swazi TV.
The late Deputy Police Commissioner Sam Mthembu who was heading the team tasked with killing me made a mistake when he invited Sigcoko into a meeting at the Police Headquarters saying he wanted his advice on whether to arrest me or not, Sigcoko couldn’t betray me and immediately after that meeting, he warned me of the plot.
In fact Mthembu wanted to paint me black saying “ I am the enemy of the King and the State”, disconnect me from the powerful people who were close to me so that I could be on my own once I’m arrested.
But Sigcoko was very unique and politically tolerate, despite being a staunch supporter of the King, we would sit together in a table, drink coffee and discuss national issues.
The most interesting part was that whenever I faced challenges, I would sometimes rush to him and he would do the same.
“Zwemart ukuphi sekuyasha asesibonane lendzaweni sinatse litiya(meaning: Where are you let’s meet, there’s an urgent burning issue).
At some point he told me how he was worried that the King was slowly isolating himself as it was hard to see him, he warned that the future of the country was not bright because the King was beginning to do things without consulting anyone.
But despite Mswati’s shortcomings, Sigcoko would consistently ask me not to be too harsh to the King, we agreed to disagree in our political opinions because my political view suggests that Mswati must stay away from politics and allow the people to elected their own government.
He believed the King needed strong and principled people around him who would tell him where to back-off when he messed-up but protect him as well.
Sigcokosiyancinca was among other close royal family members who did not disown me because of my personal political decision to advocate for a free and democratic society.
When he came back from the meeting at the Police Headquarters, he stated categorically clear that he wouldn’t have allowed bo-Mthembu to kill me without alerting me.
“Bo-Mthembu bacabanga kutsi bangakutsintsa sikhona(meaning: BoMthembu can’t touch you while we are still alive”.
Sigcoko had his weaknesses like any other human being, I was not happy with the way he treated some of the staff members at Swazi TV. But after he personally told me about his challenges, it was clear that no CEO could have allowed what was happening there.
Some Swazi TV female staff members had intimate relationships with the then Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini and Ministers, the CEO would just receive an instruction to release them for international trips, his powers to decide and assign journalists to cover international events were stripped-off through these love affairs.
After the death of Barnabas, Sigcoko fired some of the staff while some resigned because they couldn’t work ethically, they were just puppets of the late PM, some couldn’t face regality or life after Barnabas.
It should be noted that Sigcoko was not a saint but at least I was privileged to know him personally and asked some questions on disturbing media reports about him that were in the public domain.
He was one of the few journalists who decided to protect me when other media practitioners wanted to see me arrested and killed, perhaps it was because he was close to the royal family and was not desperate to sell me for a political appointment like others.
Other journalists died while trying to paint me black in the eyes of the King just to put food on the table, I don’t blame them, that’s what the system promotes, hypocrisy.
If Sigcoko was able to protect a journalist that is critical of the regime he served from being killed by the police, it means he was open to dissenting views.
Indeed, his legacy goes beyond “Khalamdumbadumbane”.
It is worth mentioning that I will miss the advise and guidance from the fallen legend, the only journalist of the regime who was close to me despite being critical against Mswati.
One day, he arrived early at a restaurant where we were supposed to meet and I found him already served with food.
I quickly grabbed his food and asked him to place another order and he was very happy that I was always vigilant to avoid being poisoned even if that person was very close to me, he smiled and called the waiter for another plate.
He said “you shouldn’t trust anyone, next time we must change this restaurant for our meeting, they might listen to our calls and bribe the waiters to poison us”.
Being close to such a legend and senior citizen was a huge blessing because I learnt a lot.
Lastly, being close to Sigcoko made me understand that there is no monopoly over wisdom, he was popular and respected in the country for solving problems but would seek advise from Zwemart who was younger than him. This means, senior citizens and the youth compliment each other in the journey of life.
The late Swazi TV CEO Bongani Sigcosiyancinca Dlamini.