The Swazi state is trying to create a smokescreen over the death of democracy activist Sipho Jele.
As the inquest into his death in custody rumbles on lurid allegations are being made about Jele. We are told police found a seditious document at Jele’s home; that he had an expired membership card for the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO); that he had links to alleged terrorists who tried to bomb the Lozitha bridge and that Swazi police were ready to make other charges against him in addition to that of wearing a PUDEMO T-shirt.
All of this is completely irrelevant and nothing to do with the circumstances of Jele’s death, which is the purpose of the inquest.
This is not a trial into allegations that Jele was a terrorist. It is an investigation into how he ended up hanging in the detention centre at Sidvwashini.
Already the inquest has raised suspicions that the Swazi police and correctional service are trying to cover up exactly what happened to Jele once he was placed in remand.
The latest allegations about Jele’s alleged ‘terrorist’ links are designed to soften up the Swazi people. If the inquest finds the police and correctional services were at fault in Jele’s death (and even are responsible for his murder, as many pro-democracy activists in Swaziland fear), the Swazi state hopes it can divert attention away from their crimes.
The state hopes we will think, ‘Jele was a terrorist and he deserved what he got’.
Don’t be fooled. Let’s get the inquest to concentrate on the real issue at stake: how did Jele die when he was in the protection of the Swazi state?