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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

PAPER BANNED TO SPARE KING’S BLUSHES

A South African Sunday newspaper was banned from Swaziland because it published an article that might embarrass King Mswati III.

Swazi Police confiscated from newspaper distributors all copies of the Sunday Sun tabloid within Swaziland when it was realised it carried a report about the 18-year-old beauty contest contestant who the King had chosen to be his 14th wife.

The ban on the paper that is usually widely available in the kingdom happened on 22 September 2013, but was not widely reported at the time. It has come to light in a report on human rights in Swaziland recently published by the US State Department.

The State Department report did not reveal that the article in question gave details of the private life of Sindiswa Dlamini. The Sunday Sun report said the woman it nicknamed ‘Naughty Sindi’ previously had affairs with two of King Mswati’s sons, Prince Majaha and Prince Bandzile, who are both in their early twenties.

One unnamed source told the newspaper, ‘Sindi has dated both these boys. She’s a party girl used to having fun.’

Another informant told Sunday Sun, ‘Sindi is no virgin. She drinks and smokes a lot and has tattoos on parts of her body I cannot mention.’

One source told the newspaper, ‘She is only doing it [marrying the king] because she comes from a poor background.’

The media in Swaziland never report about the king without his permission. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. 

This was not the first time the media in Swaziland have refused to keep its readers informed about the Swazi Royal Family. In August 2010, the world’s media were excited by the case of Swaziland Justice Minister Ndumiso Mamba and King Mswati’s 12th wife, 22-year-old Inkhosikati Nothando LaDube. This was after pictures appeared of Mamba hiding in a bed before his arrest at Royal Villas, a hotel at Ezulwini just outside Mbabane, where he was said to have had regular adulterous meetings with LaDube.

The City Press in South Africa reported at the time that when police pounced, ‘in a desperate effort not to be found out Mamba cut into the base of the bed and slid in – but police ordered him out and Mamba, dressed in a brown suit, was soon taken ­into custody’. He was later forced to resign from the government and the Senate.

At the time the City Press was also restricted from selling in Swaziland. It was reported at the time in African media that Swaziland security forces were instructed to buy all copies of the newspaper that were on sale in the kingdom.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported at the time that a man was arrested in Manzini as he tried to get a photocopy of a report in City Press, but did not tell its readers what the report contained.

The newspaper did report that a plain clothed police officer had apparently overheard him requesting that a story contained in the City Press be photocopied. The man was alleged to be a member of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), the youth wing of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). Both organisations are banned in Swaziland and both have been branded ‘terrorist entities’ by the state.

He was taken to a police station and interrogated by officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). His house was also raided so police could get the original City Press newspaper.

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