The man arrested for photocopying a news report on the Swazi Royal Family sex scandal could face a maximum two months in prison or a fine of 50 cents (US).
No really. The absurdity of the arrest of Sibusiso Mhlanga knows no bounds.
Regular readers will know that Mhlanga was arrested by a plain clothed police officer in Manzini when he tried to get a photocopy of a City Press newspaper report on the (alleged) adultery of (now former) Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Ndumiso Mamba, and King Mswati III’s 12th wife, Nothando Dube (also known as Inkhosikati LaDube).
Police said they would charge Mhlanga with copyright infringement. Mhlanga, aged 31, is a member of the Swazi Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), the youth wing of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). Both are considered ‘terrorist entities’ in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
No one believes that a plain clothed police officer just happened to be passing by when Mhlanga tried to get his photocopy. Reports of his arrest and his role as a pro-democracy activist have circulated the world since yesterday.
No matter how it tries the Swaziland state has not been able to keep a lid on the Royal Family sex scandal and what it says about King Mswati and the way he oppresses the Swazi people.
And the 50 cents? Copyright law in Swaziland dates back to 1912. If convicted you are liable to a fine not exceeding E4 [about 50 US cents], with the maximum fine not exceeding E100. In Swaziland, the legal system provides for fines or imprisonment as an alternative. The imprisonment term imposed by the Act does not exceed a period of two months.