United States student forced to terminate education, marry King Mswati.



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

JOHANNESBURG: Siphelele Mashwama(19) a student at the Rochester University in the United States was forced by her mother Jabulile Mashwama to terminate her education and marry King Mswati, a polygamous absolute Mornach with close to twenty wives. Speaking to this Swaziland News publication Jonathan Burdick, the Head of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University said many students were saddened to see their colleague terminating her education in that manner adding that they would be happy to see her return. Burdick said last year, about two months after the US student was forced to terminate her education, he travelled to Swaziland to meet her father to discuss Siphelele’s educational plans. “Mr Mashwama and I met briefly in Swaziland last year about two months after Siphelele had left. We discussed how her educational plans might evolve in the future, but we weren’t able to discuss any specific plans as her new life was underway” he said.

An independent investigation by this Swaziland News publication has uncovered how Siphelele was tricked by mother Jabulile Mashwama to visit Swaziland as “mom and dad”were missing her. It has been disclosed that at the time when the US student take a flight to Swaziland, her mother had plotted with the King to immediately abduct and force her into the polygamous marriage. The girl’s mother is a former Minister of Natural Resources and Energy with close relations to the King having been appointed by the King for two consecutive terms. But insiders within the Rochester University alleged that when the then Natural Resources Minister made the call to her daughter she not in Swaziland but on an international trip to China. “Siphelele’s mother betrayed her as she is the one who plotted all this with the King. She made a call while on her trip to China requesting Siphelele to visit them as they were missing her yet she already had plotted with the King to abduct her” said an insider.

The insider said to proof that Siphelele was not aware she was permanently leaving the United States based University, she left with some few clothes that were later were collected by her mother after the alleged abduction. But Jonathan Burdick, the Head of Admissions with the University said he was not aware of what transpired behind the scenes before the student left but confirmed that her parents subsequently visited the institution to collect her belongings. “The Mashwamas subsequently visited the campus to pick some of Siphelele’s possessions” he said. On another note Nomvuyo Mahlangu, a Lecturer at Rochester University said they were trying all possible means to convince the international community to assist in releasing Siphelele whose future has been ruined by the alleged forced marriage. Mahlangu was speaking to this Swaziland News publication after being approached to share information regarding a global campaign she launched with other Rochester students to help release Siphelele.

“A beautiful 19 year old girl just terminated her academic pursuits after her freshman year at mini ivy League to become the 14th non-consensual wife of King Mswati III. The world helped end the savagery female circumcision in West Africa. We can help end this abduction of young girls in Swaziland in the name of culture” said the Lecture. It has been revealed that some of the women married to the King are subjected to abuse and one of them Queen Senteni Masango allegedly committed suicide after she was placed under arrest by the King for three years following some disagreements with her husband. Reached for comments, Wandile Dludlu, the newly elected Secretary General of Swaziland’s main opposition party, the People United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) said this was not new in the country as parents normally donate their children to the powerful royal family for connections into high positions.

“In this case, the mother and the family of the child were seemingly part of this transaction. We know cases like this in the past where parents donate their children for connections with the royal family for benefits in high positions” said the PUDEMO Secretary General. Jabulile Mashwama, the former Natural Resources Minister and mother to Siphelele declined to comment when reached by this publication. The King’s mother-in law failed to even respond to our messages. But sources close to her told this publication that she handed over her daughter to the King as insurance for a powerful position and good life and influence in the country. “She is now assured of a powerful position and a good life as her daughter has been accepted by the King. But honestly, what she did was wrong. How can you trade with your own child to the Royal family where women are isolated, instead of allowing her to marry a man of her choice” said our source

But Wandile Dludlu, the PUDEMO) Secretary General further mentioned that as an organization they support human rights that include freedom of choice but their main concern in this matter was that public resources are used to fund the huge number of King Mswati’s wives. “We careless on who Mswati marries and how many women, our only concern is that he must personally carry the costs of his “woman collection” and leave our resources to build roads, clinics and educate our children” he said. On the other hand, Nomvuyo Mahlangu, the Lecture who facilitated the campaign to lobby the international community to try and force the King to release the Rochester University student said their main concern was that Siphelele has been forced to terminate her education hence her future was at stake. This was confirmed Jonathan Burdick, the Head of Admissions who said Siphelele remains in good standing with the University and eligible to return as her circumstances might allow. “Siphelele remains in good standing at the Univesity of Rochester and eligible to return as her circumstances might allow” he said.