MBABANE: Exiled political activists are being hunted by the Swaziland police for criticizing and challenging King Mswati’s dictatorship rule.
Speaking to this Swaziland News, Pius Valakati, the Spokesperson of the Community Party of Swaziland (CPS), who fled to South Africa confirmed that police arrived at his home after the death of his father in June 2020 hoping that he will attend the funeral.
“They arrived at my home hoping that I will attend the funeral and memorial service so they can grab me. This is one of the most painful experience of being in the struggle for democracy because even if your close relative can die, you can’t attend a funeral because police will arrest you there” said the political activist, a former President of the Swaziland students representative Council(SRC).
In a press statement, Swazi Vigil, a pro-democracy organization based in the United Kingdom(UK) said they were aware of the danger that awaits political activists back in Swaziland but clarified that they were determined to continue the fight for democratic reforms while in the UK.
“While we fully know the danger that awaits all political activists in the Kingdom of Eswatini such as former President of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement Mario Masuku who is currently out of jail under strict bail conditions which prohibits him from exercising his freedom of association by not attending any political or industrial gathering nor addressing them, we are determined to be the voice of the voiceless while we are here in the United Kingdom” read the statement in part.
The Swazi Vigil said among the political activists who openly condemned the injustices by King Mswati’s police include Zodwa Julliet Dlamini, Colleen Matsebula, Rainny Dlamini and Thulile Tengetile Dlamini who expressed concerns regarding the torture of political leaders like Ncamiso Ngcamphalala whose matter was also reported by the Voice of America (VOA) news.
“As Swazi Vigil we also strongly condemn the continued harassment of Swazi News editor Zweli Martin Dlamini who has been deprived the security and comfort of his home and has had to seek refuge in South Africa as he fears for his life from the threats coming from Eswatini police” read the statement in part.
In May 2020, the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) reported that Eugene Dube, the editor of the Swati Newsweek also fled to South Africa after police raided his home and seized electronic gadgets. Police Spokesperson Phindile Vilakati subsequently confirmed that they were investigating a case of sedition after he published critical articles about King Mswati.
The harassment of political leaders and independent journalists comes in the midst of international concerns regarding the harassment, torture and even death of political activists at the hands of the police. Sipho Jele, a member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) died in police custody, he had been arrested for wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt.
Swazi Vigil protesters in front of Swaziland High Commission in London (from left) Wandile Ndlangamandla, Vincent, Rainny Dlamini, Zodwa Juliet Dlamini, Sabelo Dlamini) .