Magazine editor Bheki Makhubu and Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko were sentenced to two years in jail on Friday (25 January 2014) after they wrote articles for the Nation magazine critical of the Swazi judiciary.
They were not given an option of a fine.
The sentence was immediately condemned by Freedom House, the global human rights organisation as ‘shameful’ and a ‘brazen contempt for the free press’.
There had been protests across the world after the pair were convicted by the Swazi High Court of contempt of court a week earlier.
When they appeared for sentencing High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelenae said the sentence should serve as a deterrent for others.
Judge Simelane singled out Maseko because during the trial he had read out a statement in his defence that criticised the lack of democracy in Swaziland.
Judge Simelane said this amounted to a call for regime change in Swaziland. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
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