22 June 2011
Swazi journalist arrested for 'tarnishing' kingdom's image
MBABANE — Swazi journalist Manqoba Nxumalo claimed he was detained for several hours Wednesday by police who confiscated his passport and accused him of "tarnishing" the country's image.
Police could not be reached for comment. Nxumalo said they confiscated videotapes and documents from his home, but did not press charges.
"I was detained. They said I have been writing articles about the country and that I am inviting foreign journalists to write bad things about the country," Nxumalo told AFP after his release.
His passport was seized, and police told him they would press charges later, said the journalist, who works for South African media.
He said police seemed most concerned that he had facilitated interviews for South African broadcaster SABC with two activists jailed over pro-democracy protests in April.
Police said "that I conspired with the SABC to tarnish the county's image," he added.
Swaziland is Africa's last absolute monarchy, but a severe financial crisis had placed pressure on King Mswati III, who enjoys private jets and overseas shopping sprees while his subjects live in poverty.
Criticism of the monarchy is banned in Swaziland. International rights watchdog Freedom House said in a report that "self-censorship is widespread, as journalists are routinely subject to threats and attacks by the authorities."