Swaziland police have stepped in once again to ban a meeting they didn’t like the look of.
And they arrested a visiting consultant who was on his way to the meeting – before he even got there.
Morten Koefen, a consultant from Denmark currently on attachment with the Foundation for Socio Economic Justice offices in Manzini, was detained while attending a meeting organised by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign.
Koefen was on his way to the meeting at Caritas in Manzini together with political activist Mphandlana Shongwe but were told that the meeting had been banned.
Koefen was detained at around 5pm and kept at the Manzini regional offices before he was taken to the Manzini charge office accompanied by four senior police officers only to be released at 8pm. He had called in lawyers Thulani Maseko and Sipho Mnyovu Mnisi.
Stretching our incredulity, a police spokesperson said they briefly detained Koefen to enquire about the legality of his stay in the country. He said his detention had nothing to do with the banned meeting.
He said Koefen was detained far from the venue and that his interrogation was in line with customary police procedure to enquire about the foreigner’s legal documents or otherwise permits in the country. According to a report in the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, he also said the reason they banned the Swaziland Democracy Campaign meeting was because it was also organised by the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).
He said they could tell by the people who turned up for it. He said since PUDEMO was a banned entity in Swaziland it could not be allowed to hold meetings.
This is not the first time Swaziland police have taken it upon themselves to ban a meeting they didn’t like. In February 2010 they banned a youth group from meeting in Mbabane ‘because the meeting was going to be held at night’.