Swazi police are using the recent spate of petrol bottle incidents as an excuse to raid the homes of pro-democracy activists in Swaziland.
Police say they are looking for bombs or bomb-making equipment. They don’t find these but they use the raid as an excuse to search for any other material, such as pro-democracy literature, that might be present in the house.
(Clearly police aren’t really looking for ‘bomb-making’ material because the misnamed petrol ‘bombs’ being thrown at the homes of MPs, police etc consist of - well - petrol and bottles – things that would be found at any home that has a car or a motorbike.)
The latest victim of the police intimidation is Musa Hlophe, the coordinator of the NGO Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO), who also writes a column in the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland.
Hlophe, aged 72, is a long-standing human rights defender in Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and his placeman, Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland.
Police arrived at Holphe’s home yesterday (17 June 2010) with a warrant to search for bombs or bomb-making materials, any documentation aimed at promoting a terrorist act or any material which could be used to promote a terrorist act.
Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, reports the police left the house after two hours with just two documents: a memo from Freedom House concerning Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and a document relating to democratisation in Swaziland.
Front Line says, ‘The police raid at the home of Musa Hlophe is directly linked to his work in defence of human rights, and that the suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities constitutes an attempt to delegitimise the work of human rights defenders in the country.’
Front Line has protested the harassment of Hlophe to the European Union, the United Nations, and African Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders.