The following is a media release from the Swaziland Democracy Campaign that reports that Bhekinkhosi Dlamini, a senior activist in the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has been summoned by the Inner Council of the Elwandle Royal Residence to answer why he officiated at the funeral of democracy activist Sipho Jele.
SDC calls this ‘state-perpetrated persecution of opponents’ of the Swazi regime ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The Swaziland chapter of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) is in possession of a letter of summons served on the Commissar of the Manzini branch of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and his entire extended family to appear before the Inner Council of the Elwandle Royal Residence on Saturday 5th June 2010. The following details are particularly worth noting:
- PUDEMO is a proscribed political organization in terms of the Suppression of Terrorism Act (2008), which outlaws political group affiliation despite the Constitution (2005) guaranteeing freedoms such as the right to peaceful assembly, association, and expression
- Bhekinkhosi, a nurse by profession, was born at KalaMgabhi northwest of Manzini and has lived with his mother and maternal relatives at Elwandle from a young age, and this is the only place he has always called home
- Chief Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkatshwa of Elwandle has previously summoned Bhekinkhosi’s mother and cautioned her against Bhekinkhosi’s active membership of PUDEMO
- The summons, signed by the headman of the Elwandle Royal Residence, Ben Mshamndane Nsibandze, who also doubles as the Regional Administrator for the Hhohho Region, was served on Bhekinkhosi’s family on Sunday 30 May 2010.
- Bhekinkhosi is in no doubt that the summons has to do with a Times of Swaziland Sunday front-page picture of him as MC at the late Sipho Jele’s funeral the previous two weekends
- Bhekinkhosi is half-bother to Minister for Public Works and Transport, Ntuthuko Dlamini, who verbally reprimanded Bhekinkhosi for “spoiling things for the family…” when he saw Bhekinkhosi’s picture in the newspaper and before the summons was served
The SDC is following the developments with keen interest as we believe Bhekinkhosi and his maternal household are the victims of state-perpetrated persecution of opponents of the Tinkhundla dictatorship headed by King Mswati III. We condemn such acts in the strongest terms possible and will be writing a formal letter of complaint to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) as we have done previously. We once again appeal to the international community to note and take appropriate action against the Swazi regime with a view to ending rampant human rights violations and restoring civil liberties like all civilized 21st century societies.