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Swaziland: (Updated May 6) More arrests as monarchy targets democracy activists

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

Update, May 6, 2014: The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) is pleased to hear that the seven PUDEMO members who were arrested for wearing PUDEMO t-shirts have been released on E15,000 bail each. It is unfortunate, however that the president of the organisation, Mario Masuku and student activist and secretary general of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), Maxwell Dlamini, were denied bail.

Maxwell and Masuku have both been charged with four counts of terrorism. On the first count, they are charged with contravening Section 11 (1)(a) of the Suppression of Terrorism Act No.3 of 2008. On the second charge they contravened Section 11 (1)(b) of the same Act. It is alleged that they unlawfully solicited support for and or gave support to a terrorist entity, PUDEMO. The state, as usual, is opposing their bail application on the grounds that they are a flight risks, this despite the fact that they have been admitted to bail in two other trials and never fled the country.

This indicates that the state simply wishes to see them behind bars for as long as possible, knowing that this will be punishment enough as it would take the case years before it comes before a judge who will most likely dismiss it. We wish to condemn this behavior by the Swazi authorities and demand the immediate release of the two political figures all political prisoner.

-- Lucky Lukhele, SNN spokesperson

* * *

By Nkululeko Gama

May 2, 2014 -- Swaziland Solidarity Network -- Banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) president Mario Masuku and Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) secretary general Maxwell Dlamini were arrested on May 1 at the Salesian Sports ground during the Workers’ Day celebration.

Masuku was among a number of political activists invited to address the gathering organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) when he met his arrest.

The political activists included the president of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) Dr A.T. Dlamini; African United Democratic Party (AUDP) secretary general Sibusiso Dlamini; SWADEPA founding executive member Reverend Wilfred Mkhiwa Kunene; SWAYOCO president Bhekumusa Dlamini and members of the Swaziland Communist Party to name a few.

Just a few minutes after delivering his speech, Masuku was arrested by police without even the people next to him seeing what was going on. This saved what could have been a nasty scene. He was whisked to a police vehicle and taken to the police station.

Masuku was a hit among the workers yesterday. He was given a hero’s welcome when he arrived with political activists ignoring the program and running all the way to the parking lot to welcome him.

The activists toyi-toyied with their president until they got to the VIP tent, where he was welcomed by the popular TUCOSWA president Barnes Dlamini and other dignitaries.

This was also the case when his party was called to address the workers. He was escorted to the stage by his supporters and workers.

After Masuku’s speech, Maxwell sang a song which the political activists danced and toyi-toyied to. He was arrested for this song as the police termed it "seditious".

Barnes confirmed the arrest when called last evening. He said he was from the police station and had been told that the two had been already charged.

Police public relations officer assistant superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed the arrests of the two. He said they were both charged with sedition and would appear in court soon.

Earlier in April, the secretary general of PUDEMO, Mlungisi Makhanya, and seven other members of PUDEMO and SWAYOCO were arrested for defying the Suppression of Terrorism Act and its predecessor, the 1973 decree that criminalises all forms of political activity.

Communist Party of Swaziland denounces new arrests, calls for heightened democracy campaign

May 2, 2014 -- Communist Party of Swaziland -- The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) urges the widest possible condemnation of the arrests of Mario Masuku, president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), and Maxwell Dlamini, general secretary of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).

This is the second time in recent days that the PUDEMO president and other pro-democracy activists, including CPS members, have been targeted by the Mswati regime. The leaders have been charged with sedition, the usual charge levelled at democracy activists targeted by Mswati’s police.

The regime is clearly clamping down on the pro-democracy movement and sending a signal to other activists and to the international community that Mswati does not intend to make meaningful democratic reforms, despite pressure from many quarters to do so.

"Mswati is playing a desperate game. His only real option, as he is increasingly cornered, is to lash out blindly. We expect that his suppression of the democracy movement will escalate", said CPS general secretary Kenneth Kunene. “It is really important that the movement closes ranks to make the unbanning of political parties and organisations a reality. The best way to oppose Mswati at the moment is to demand democracy.”

Comments

We are not terrorists’ - Mario, Maxwell

 
‘We are not terrorists’ - Mario, Maxwell
06/05/2014 03:00:00by Nkululeko Gama
imagePUDEMO President Mario Masuku.
Banned entity PUDEMO President Mario Masuku and SWAYOCO Secretary General Maxwell Dlamini say they are not terrorists and want out on bail.

The two have since filed urgent applications at the High Court asking to be released on bail in the matter.

Masuku and Dlamini were arrested on Thursday during the May Day celebration at Salesian Sports Ground. They were both taken by police after Masuku delivered his speech as he was a guest speaker at the event.

They are both charged with four counts of terrorism. On the first count, they are charged with contravening Section 11 (1) (a) of the Suppression of Terrorism Act No.3 of 2008. On the second charge they contravened Section 11 (1) (b) of the same Act. It is alleged that on Thursday, they unlawfully solicited support for and or gave support to a terrorist entity, PUDEMO.



They are said to have chanted certain slogans which cannot be repeated for the same legal reasons.

They were also charged with contravening Section 4 (a) (b) (c) and (e) read together with Section 3 (c) and (e) of the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act No.46 of 1938 as amended.

Slogan

By shouting the stated slogan, Masuku and Dlamini are said to have attempted, conspired and prepared to bring hatred or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Swaziland. They are accused of trying to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population.

Subversive

On the last count, they are said to have propagated or advocated an act prejudicial to public order. It is alleged they were propagating and advocating subversive activities against the leadership of the country and thus contravened the act.

In their corresponding founding affidavits, Masuku and Dlamini concur that they were charged with an offence where terrorism is a subject matter but dispute such. They both highlighted that they have not previously been violent to anyone or threatened anyone with violence or committed an act of terrorism. They made it clear they both do not even harbour any resentment to anyone.

Dlamini, the university students president also highlighted that he was a student and asked to be released so he could write his examination which commenced yesterday.

Like Masuku, Dlamini argued that he was the sole breadwinner for his family and his continued incarceration would jeopardise the welfare of his family.

The state opposed the bail application. In the opposing affidavits, it is alleged that Dlamini is currently on bail in two matters of a similar nature.

Charged

He was once charged with contravening the Explosives Act No.4 of 1961 and the matter is still pending at the Matsapha Circuit Court. It is alleged that Dlamini was also charged with two offences of contravening The Seditious and Subversive Act of 1938 as amended. He is alleged to have displayed a huge banner inscribed with seditious statements with two other people at Msunduza.

“The natures of the charges faced by applicant are very serious. The contents of the seditious statements he uttered are very disrespectful and threatening to the leadership of the country and the nation at large,” the state argues. He is alleged to have uttered that the leadership and system of governance of the country should be overthrown. The matter is before High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelane. The duo is represented by Human Rights attorney Sipho Gumedze whereas Senior Crown Counsel Thabo Dlamini represents the state.

...Maxwell to write examination

Incarcerated SWAYOCO General Secretary Maxwell Dlamini will write his examination.

Dlamini won an application to be allowed to write his examination at the University of Swaziland, Kwaluseni campus yesterday.

Order

Judge Mpendulo Simelane granted the order to have Dlamini brought to the university to seat for his examination. Dlamini was granted leave to go and write his paper yesterday which started at 2pm.

“It is the order of the court that applicant be afforded an opportunity to go and write his examination today and other days to follow,” said Judge Simelane.

http://www.observer.org.sz/news/61494-‘we-are-not-terrorists’-mario%2C-maxwell.html

PUDEMO seven freed on E15 000 bail each

06/05/2014

Mlungisi Makhanya, Bongani Hlangabeza Gama, Ntobeko Gideon Maseko, Siza Jabulani Tsabedze, Brian Clive Ntshangase, Mangaliso Menzi Khumalo and Bafana Mabandla Khumalo couldn’t hold their joy when Judge Mumcy delivered her judgment yesterday at the High Court.

About 100 people crammed the courtroom to support the seven who were arrested two weeks ago whilst attending the ongoing trial of incarcerated The Nation Magazine Editor Bheki Makhubu and Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko.

Makhubu and Maseko are facing contempt of court charges emanating from articles published in The Nation Magazine during the February and March issues. The articles were in relation to the arrest of Government Chief Vehicle Inspector Vincent Bhantshana Gwebu.

PUDEMO is a proscribed entity, according to the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

The seven were found wearing berets and T-shirts written PUDEMO and this, according to the Act, is an offence. They were all charged with four counts of terrorism.

On the first count, they are charged with contravening Section 11 (1) (a) of the Suppression of Terrorism Act no.3 of 2008. On the second charge they contravened Section 11 (1) (b) of the same act. It is alleged that on Tuesday and Wednesday last week along High Court, Mbabane Bus Rank and Mahlokohla Street near kaZondle corridor, they unlawfully solicited support for and or gave support to a terrorist entity, PUDEMO.

They are said to have chanted slogans while wearing the white T-shirts written PUDEMO and reflecting terrorist demands at the back. They also wore red and black PUDEMO berets and thus contravened this act.

They were also charged with contravening Section 4 (a) (b) (c) and (e) read together with Section 3 (c) and (e) of the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act no.46 of 1938 as amended.

With their act they are alleged to have attempted, prepared, and conspired with others to do an act with seditious intentions. According to this charge, they brought into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Swaziland and or promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population in the country.

Judge Mumcy noted that all the PUDEMO members had their families in the country. She said this included Makhanya who is said to have businesses in South Africa. Judge Dlamini noted that Makhanya comes to the country to be with his wife and children almost every weekend.

“A perusal of the four counts reflects that the mischief alleged against applicants is that they unlawfully solicited or gave support to a terrorist entity i.e. PUDEMO by wearing T-shirts with inscription PUDEMO. Nothing turns on enchanting of terrorist slogans because there are no specific words mentioned in the indictment indicating the same,” she noted.

The judge said nothing was to be said of the seriousness of the charges the seven are facing after the state counsel withdrew his submission that the applicants were charged with an offence of violence. This was after he was asked by the court to demonstrate where such was shown in the charge sheet. They were each granted E15 000 bail. They were ordered to pay E5 000 cash and provide surety to the tune of E10 000.

All of them were ordered to submit their travelling documents or passports to the head of investigation team and not apply for any.

However, Makhanya was granted leave to retain one of his travelling documents for purposes of attending only to his employment in South Africa.

They were also ordered to report to Mbabane Police Station, Lukhozi Department once every last Saturday of each month-end.

http://www.observer.org.sz/news/61502-pudemo-seven-freed-on-e15-000-bail-each.html

JUDGE MUMCY GRANTS PUDEMO’S 7 BAIL

06/05/2014 06:03:00BY MBONGISENI NDZIMANDZE Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
MBABANE – The seven members of PUDEMO who were arrested for being found
in possession of the banned entity’s T-shirts have been admitted to
bail. PUDEMO is the People’s United Democratic Movement. They were admitted to E15 000 bail each by High Court Judge Mumcy Dlamini yesterday. Judge Dlamini, however, ordered each of the accused to pay E5 000 cash and provide surety for the balance.
The accused were arrested on April 24, 2014 near the High Court where
the trial of The Nation Magazine Editor Bheki Makhubu and Human Rights
Lawyer Thulani Maseko was ongoing. They are facing four counts which
include contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act No.3 of 2008 and
Sedition and Subversive Activities Act No.3 of 2008. The
arrested members were Bongani Gama, Mlungisi Makhanya ( PUDEMO
Secretary General), Brian Ntshangase (PRO), Mangaliso Khumalo, Bafana
Magongo, Ntobeko Maseko and Siza Tsabedze. There was silence in
court as Judge Dlamini read the last part of the 16 page judgment which
she delivered in the afternoon yesterday. In her judgment,
Judge Dlamini stated that the Crown strenuously argued that the charges
faced by the accused were of a serious nature and she agreed with it in
that regard. “Generally speaking all criminal charges are serious in
their nature although one must add that it is not from mere reading of a
charge that one may infer its seriousness. One has to go further and
read the act, commission or omission said to have been committed,” she
stated. The judge stated that the respondent (Crown) also
alluded to other grounds such as that the applicants (seven accused)
might commit the same offence if released and that they might interfere
with Crown witnesses. She said in casu it was not an issue that all
the applicants have families in the country. This included Makhanya who,
although was said to have both his businesses in South Africa he comes
to the country to be with his wife and children almost every weekend. Emotional
“The factor that all the applicants have their families or emotional
ties, as we often say, on its own fortifies the ground that the
applicants are rooted in the country and this mitigates the likelihood
of evading trial. Judge Dlamini stated that a further factor that
required attention was the ability of the applicants to flee. She said
against this ground was the Crown’s case, the stringent penalty or
seriousness of the charge. “A perusal of the four counts reflects
that mischief alleged against the applicants is that they unlawfully
solicited or gave support to a terrorist entity (PUDEMO) by wearing T-
shirts with inscription ‘PUDEMO’. Nothing turns on enchanting of
terrorists slogans because there are no specific words mentioned in the
indictment indicating same,” she said. The judge said although
the applicants face four counts, two under the Suppression of Terrorism
Act and two under the Subversive Activities Act, only one act was
reflected on all the counts and that was of wearing T- shirts and berets
belonging to the proscribed entity PUDEMO. Judge Dlamini further
stated that the Crown counsel, during the hearing, submitted that the
applicants are charged with the offence of violence. She said when Crown
counsel was pressed by the court to demonstrate the same from the
charges; he informed the court that he was withdrawing such a
submission. The judge said on this, nothing much was left to be said on the seriousness of the charge or penalty.
“The respondent (Crown) has asserted that the applicants are inclined
to interfere with witnesses. It is common cause that all the witnesses
in the criminal offence are police officers. The likelihood that they
might interfere with Crown’s witnesses is, therefore, remote,” said
Judge Dlamini. Judge Dlamini ordered all the applicants (accused) to
submit all their travelling documents or passports to the head of
investigation team and not apply for any. She, however, stated
that Makhanya was granted leave to retain one of his travelling
documents for purposes of attending only to his employment. The accused, who are in this application referred to as applicants were represented by Human Rights Lawyer Sipho Gumedze. Some of their bail conditions
* Ordered to report to the Mbabane Police Station, Lukhozi Department
once every last Saturday of each month- end between the hours of 9am to
3pm commencing end of May 2014. * Second to seventh applicants are ordered to remain within Swaziland until finalisation of their trial. * All applicants are ordered to submit their residential addresses to the head of investigating team. * All applicants are ordered to appear in court upon service of court process.
* Should any applicant be found to have violated any of the above
conditions, his bail shall be cancelled forthwith and bail amount
forfeited to the Crown. http://www.times.co.sz/news/96831-judge-mumcy-grants-pudemo’s-7-bail.html

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