June 6, 2011 1 Comment
31. July 2015
Maxwell’s trials and tribulations
Maxwell Dlamini finally walked out of prison in July, released on bail after having spent fourteen months in squalid conditions in the prisons of Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III. His crime was to have sung a pro-democracy song.
“Jail being the lonely place that it is, there are moments when you feel down and morally low”, says Maxwell. “But at all times I was motivated by the fact that our course is just, and I refuse to abdicate my responsibility or allow the state to break me”.
No Christmas presents in jail
Maxwell Dlamini was born in 1989 in a small village in the south of Swaziland called Mantambe. His father works in a hospital and his mother is a farmer. He was top of his high school class, and was admitted to university as a commerce student in 2007.
He is a passionate supporter of the Mbabane Highlanders football team and his friends say he is himself a gifted football player. He says that the birth of his daughter on Christmas Eve last year was the most beautiful moment in his life.
Unfortunately, he was not there to witness it. Because even though Maxwell might be seem like an ordinary guy with ordinary dreams for himself, his girlfriend and their baby girl, the society he happened to grow up in is by no means ordinary.
Because having ordinary dreams in the absolute monarchy that is Swaziland, where over two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day while the royal family live opulence, means that you are seen as a threat to the regime of King Mswati III.
The Swazi regime has constantly harassed Maxwell, tortured, and kept him in prison simply for being an active and high-ranking member of the banned political party PUDEMO and for demanding democratic change and socio-economic justice in his country of birth.
Maxwell was first arrested in 2010 for his role in a student protest. In 2011, on the eve of the largest pro-democracy rally in recent history in Swaziland that he helped plan, he was arrested, tortured, and charged with possession of explosives.
“I was tied to a bench with my face looking upwards and they suffocated me with the black plastic bag with a huge police officer on my stomach. They did that over and over again till I collapsed. They told me that they will kill me for causing trouble in the country”, Maxwell told me after his release.
He was released on bail after spending a year in prison, and over three years later, he was finally acquitted of the charges. He was detained again on Mayday 2014 together with PUDEMO President Mario Masuku. They were charged with having sung a pro-democracy song and having shouted “viva PUDEMO” and released on bail over a year later without the trial having started.
“I was made to sleep on the floor with very few blankets. I was kept in solitary confinement with only a bucket to relieve myself. There was no clean running water and we were made to bath with cold water. Our friends and relatives were made to wait for long hours before they could see us just for five minutes”, Maxwell says of his latest prison ordeal.
Not a desktop warrior
Maxwell was only a few courses away from finishing his undergraduate degree that had been disrupted by prison sentences, withdrawal of his scholarship on political grounds and harsh bail conditions when he was arrested last year.
Nevertheless, he insists that while he is disappointed that he has not been able to finish his degree, he will not put any personal career opportunities above the struggle for a free and democratic Swaziland.
“I am as keenly interested in finishing and obtaining my degree as I am in putting to its logical conclusion this struggle we are waging”, Maxwell says, while admitting that he might have to finish his degree abroad because the regime wishes to ostracise him.
“I hope that I can inspire others to rise out of their fear and challenge this backward and archaic system of royal supremacy, not through desktop and boardroom activism, but through open defiance”.
Dialogue with a dictator
Nevertheless, Maxwell insists that he and PUDEMO are willing to negotiate a settlement for the future of Swaziland with an absolute monarch and his government who have harassed, jailed, and tortured him and many of his fellow activists.
He also insists, however, that the world must demand that the king must hold honest and constructive negotiations with Swaziland’s democratic movement that will bring about a democratic Swaziland.
“I am convinced that the future of Swaziland lies in a negotiated settlement that will lead to the unbanning of PUDEMO. In the meantime I call on the world not to loosen the noose around the regime’s neck until it wilts and subsequently collapses”.
Swaziland is an absolute monarchy where the king appoints the Prime Minister and the government and controls everything from the judiciary to land allocations and the national budget. Political parties are banned and political leaders such as Maxwell Dlamini are harassed, tortured, treated as terrorists and sometimes killed for advocating a peaceful transition to democracy.
The Suppression of Terrorism Act, which Maxwell Dlamini and many other Swazi activists have been charged under, has been referred to as “inherently repressive” by Amnesty international.
Two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day, many on handouts from the UN. Swaziland has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world.
15. July 2015
After having spent over a year in prison awaiting trial for having shouted pro-democracy slogans, pro-democracy leaders Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini were granted bail Tuesday in the small absolute monarchy of Swaziland.
Masuku and Dlamini, both high-ranking members of banned pro-democracy party the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), are charged under Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act, an act that Amnesty International calls “inherently repressive”. They have previously applied for bail twice without success.
Pressure led to release
Mounting pressure for their release, combined with a crisis in the judiciary in Swaziland that has led to the sacking of the Chief Justice and the Minister of Justice and the subsequent release of two other pro-democracy advocates in June, may have paved the way for Masuku and Dlamini having been granted bail.
An international campaign for their release is supported by amongst others Amnesty International, the ANC, the Swaziland United Democratic Front, the International Trade Union Confederation as well as former anti-apartheid organisations ACTSA and Afrika Kontakt from the UK and Denmark respectively.
The Danish embassy, the UK Foreign Office and the Commenwealth have also raised the matter of Masuku and Dlamini’s case and imprisonment with the Swazi government, as has the former Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mogens Lykketoft, who will be the next President of the UN General Assembly.
Suffered more than enough
According to Swazi trade union leader Wonder Mkhonza, who knows both Masuku and Dlamini personally, they have already suffered more than enough in prison. “No one deserves such treatment”, he says.
Mario Masuku, who suffers from diabetes, has been seriously ill during his prison spell, but has been denied proper treatment. Maxwell Dlamini has previously been tortured by police while detained, and was receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of his arrest in 2014.
Both have had to sleep on the floor in a small cell with as many as 35 other inmates.
Into the big prison
Although Masuku and Dlamini have now been released on bail, they still face the challenge of what Mario Masuku has called “the big prison that is Swaziland”.
These challenges include debilitating bail payments and legal expenses, gruelling bail conditions and continuous harassment of anyone who challenges the rule of absolute monarch Mswati III.
5. February 2015
Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini’s case has been postponed until March 2015.
The case was postponed pending the hearing on the constitutionality of Swaziland’s Terrorism Act in March, and was referred back to the High Court Registrar, pending finalisation of this constitutional challenge .
According to an eyewitness, “the court was filled to capacity with Pudemo-members and human rights activists. Mario and Maxwell were brought into court in handcuffs which were removed only when their case was called. No pictures of them were allowed as the correctional officers blocked them from view and whisked them away.”
20. January 2015
Former Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Danish Parliament, Mogens Lykketoft, has signed a petition that demands the release of imprisoned Swazi political leader Mario Masuku.
“I support the appeal for the immediate release of Mario Masuku and his colleague [student leader Maxwell Dlamini]. I have met with Mario Masuku in Copenhagen as President of the Danish Parliament. He is fighting for democracy and human rights in Swaziland. I urge Denmark and the EU, together with South Africa, to ensure their immediate release so that they can resume their political work”, Mogens Lykketoft said in a statement.
Hundreds of other organisations and individuals, including the South African ruling ANC party, the International Trade Union Confederation and Britain’s largest trade union UNISON, have supported the campaign instigated by Danish solidarity organization Africa Contact and signed the appeal.
The Danish ambassador to South Africa and Swaziland last year raised the question of the trial of Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini with Swaziland’s government and absolute monarch King Mswati III.
Mario Masuku is the president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a political party that fights for democracy in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. He is charged under an anti-terrorism bill that Amnesty International has called “inherently repressive” for having shouted “viva PUDEMO” and criticized the government in a speech on Mayday last year. If convicted he could serve up to 15 years in prison.
Masuku suffers from arthritis and diabetes. Whilst in prison, he has contracted pneumonia and a life-threatening infection in his left foot. He has been denied bail on two separate occasions.
Mogens Lykketoft has met with Mario Masuku on two occasions; in the Danish parliament and in Johannesburg. He has also awarded Masuku a democracy prize in the Danish Parliament in 2010.
Mogens Lykketoft was the leader of the Danish Social Democratic Party between 2002 and 2005 and has served as Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance Minister and Taxation Minister. He is the current President of the Danish parliament, and will be formally appointed as the next President of the United Nations General Assembly on 15. September 2015.
13. January 2015
Hundreds of unions, parties, politicians and individuals from all over the world have signed a petition to demand the release of Swazi political activists Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini, including the International Trade Union Confederation, British trade union federation UNISON and the African National Congress.
The ANC has issued a statement, calling “for the release of comrade Mario Masuku and all other political prisoners in Swaziland”, and last year the Danish ambassador raised the matter of Mario Masuku’s trial with Swaziland’s king Mswati III.
Mario Masuku is the president of the People’s United Democratic Movement, or PUDEMO, a party or movement fighting for democracy and socioeconomic justice in Africa’s last absolute monarchy, Swaziland, where over two thirds of the population survive on under a dollar a day.
A cold prison floor
But even though the support warms the heart of Mario Masuku, he still has had to sleep on a cold prison floor at the Zakhele Remand Centre in Manzini since he was charged with sedition for having shouted “viva PUDEMO” on Mayday last year. He is charged under the Swazi terrorism act, an act that Amnesty International has called “inherently repressive”. If convicted he could serve 15 years in prison.
Mario Masuku is 63 years old and suffers from arthritis and diabetes. According to PUDEMO’s Secretary General, Mlungisi Makhanya, who is himself charged with terrorism for having worn a PUDEMO t-shirt, Masuku has ”developed a life-threatening infection on his left foot which needs an operation”.
Last week, when Mario Masuku was visited by Lawyers for Human Rights, he complained that the conditions are “deplorable”. He has therefore applied for bail on two occasions to be able to seek treatment for his ailments in neighbouring South Africa.
Both applications for bail were turned down because the judge claimed “the security of the country would be threatened” if he was to be released, even though Mario Masuku has always campaigned peacefully for democracy and never advocated violence.
“My second home”
Mario Masuku been imprisoned many times, as well as harassed and charged for all manner of things, by Swaziland’s police forces and legal system since he helped form PUDEMO in 1983. So many times, that he often refers to prison as “his second home”.
When Mario Masuku was imprisoned for 340 days awaiting trial on similar charges of terrorism in 2009, the case was laughed out of court in a matter of hours and Masuku released when he was eventually brought before a judge.
Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini’s case is set to continue on February 5.
The campaign to free Mario Masuku and his co-accused, the Secretary General of PUDEMO’s Youth League, SWAYOCO, Maxwell Dlamini, was initiated by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung – Southern Africa, The Red Green Alliance – Denmark, Action for Southern Africa – United Kingdom, Africa Contact – Denmark, and the Swaziland United Democratic Front.
You can sign the petition to demand the release of Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini here:http://afrika.dk/indhold/free-mario-masuku-and-maxwell-dlamini
27. October 2014
Denmark has raised the questions of political freedom, human rights, and the trial of political activists Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini with Swaziland’s government and absolute monarch King Mswati III, Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Martin Lidegaard told the Danish Foreign Affairs Committee last Wednesday.
“Denmark has continuously raised the question of political freedom with Swaziland, most recently on the 5th of June 2014, when the Danish ambassador held political talks in the capital Mbabane with, amongst others, king Mswati III and [then] Minister of Foreign Affairs Mgwagwa Gamedze”, said Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Martin Lidegaard.
During the meeting with the king, the Danish ambassador urged Swaziland to comply with the demands of the ongoing AGOA-negotiations, which should include the adaption of laws such as Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act, a bill that Amnesty International has called “inherently repressive”.
Mario and Maxwell
“Such adaptions would particularly benefit the media, human rights defenders, and the political opposition in Swaziland, including Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini”, Martin Lidegaard said. “The trial of Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini was also brought up during the recently held political consultations between the EU and Swaziland on the 2nd and 3rd of October regarding the Cotonou Agreement, at the request of the Danish Ambassador”.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs was replying to questions posed by Danish MP for the Red-Green Alliance, Christian Juhl regarding human rights violations in Swaziland, specifically in reference to the trial of Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini.
Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini face terrorism charges under Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act and could serve 15 years in prison for criticizing Swaziland’s absolute monarchy and expressing support for pro-democracy party the People’s United Democratic Front (PUDEMO) on Mayday.
Masuku is the PUDEMO President and Dlamini the Secretary General of PUDEMO’s youth league, SWAYOCO. They have been remanded in prison since their arrest on Mayday, having had several applications for bail turned down. Masuku has contracted pneumonia in prison which has been exacerbated by his diabetic condition and led to drastic weight loss and poor eye sight.
Stronger pressure on Swaziland
The imprisonment and trial of Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini has been heavily criticised, both in Denmark, where solidarity organization Africa Contact and the Red-Green Alliance have campaigned for their release, and abroad.
Danish Chairman of the Parliament and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mogens Lykketoft, who met with Mario Masuku in his office in the Danish Parliament last year, has supported the calls for their release and called for “stronger pressure” on Swaziland “regarding freedom of speech and organization”.
And in a letter to king Mswati, an array of other individuals and organisations such as Desmond Tutu, Freedom House, Freedom of Expression Institute in South Africa, Front Line Defenders, and Southern Africa Litigation Centre called for the release of political prisoners in Swaziland, including Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini.
“We call upon you to order the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners detained in Swaziland,” the letter stated, urging Swaziland’s government to “begin meaningful discussions with the growing number of citizens and independent organizations that are demanding their basic freedoms and calling for democratic reform in Swaziland.”
5. August 2014
According to the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, SWAYOCO Secretary General Maxwell Dlamini has been acquitted of the 2011 charges of contravening Swaziland’s Explosives Act.
Maxwell Dlamini’s co-accused in the 2011 case, Musa Ngubeni, was found guilty on circumstantial evidence and will appear before the magistrate again on September 10.
Maxwell Dlamini is still charged under section 4 and 11 of the Suppression of Terrorism Act for criticising the Swazi regime on May Day 2014, where he could face 15 years in prison if convicted.
He is also charged with sedition and participating in an unlawful activity for allegedly organising and participating in a campaign that advocated the boycott of Swaziland’s 2013 elections, that the Commonwealth Observer Mission referred to as being “not credible”.
Maxwell Dlamini was tortured during questioning in 2011, a fact mentioned in Amnesty International’s 2012 annual report, and subsequently received treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
4. August 2014
Swazi activists Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini face terrorism charges and could serve 15 years in prison for expressing support for pro-democracy party the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).
“If we have to go inside the prisons and be charged, I am the first one”. This was the prophetic statement of the Mario Masuku, the President of PUDEMO, on May Day in the tiny absolute monarchy of Swaziland.
Mario Masuku and youth leader Maxwell Dlamini, Mario Masuku were arrested shortly after having given speeches to approximately 7,000 people at the 2014 May Day event in Swaziland’s main commercial city, Manzini.
They were charged under section 4 and 11 of the Suppression of Terrorism Act, an act that Amnesty International has called “inherently repressive” and claims “continues to use the sweeping provisions of the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act to detain and charge political activists”. They could serve as long as 15 years in prison if convicted.
Mario Masuku had expressed support for his own organization, PUDEMO, and Maxwell Dlamini had shouted “viva PUDEMO” along with hundreds of others at the May Day event and allegedly sung a song that included the words “the king must go”.
The state prosecution has argued that these utterances are “very serious” and “threatening to the leadership of the country and the nation at large”. Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini for their part vigorously deny being terrorists or that their alleged offenses constitute acts of terrorism.
Both Masuku and Dlamini have been denied bail and are remanded in custody at Zakhele Remand Centre, where Mario Masuku has contracted pneumonia, which has been exacerbated by his diabetic condition and led to drastic weight loss and poor eye sight. His legal team is filing a new bail application to try and ensure that he gets the proper medical attention that he has been refused in prison.
According to several members of the democratic movement in Swaziland both Masuku and Dlamini are also facing financial difficulties because of the legal costs of the trial. Their trial will continue in September.
They have both previously faced both harassment and lengthy spells in custody for similar charges from Swaziland’s police and legal system, none of which they have ever been convicted of. Maxwell Dlamini has given a vivid account of his torture at the hands of Swazi police in 2011 and was receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder before his arrest.
Swaziland is one of the most unequal countries in the world with nearly 70 per cent of its population living under the poverty line of US$1 a day. King Mswati III of Swaziland is ranked amongst the richest royals in the world.
Sign petition to demand the release of Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini.
17. June 2014
Danish democratic socialist party, the Red-Green Alliance, yesterday sent a statement of support for two imprisoned democracy advocates to Swaziland’s government.
President of the pro-democracy party, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Mario Masuku, and youth leader Maxwell were arrested on May Day, and subsequently charged with sedition – Masuku for expressing support for his own organization in a speech, Dlamini for allegedly shouting “viva PUDEMO”. They have been in prison since then, as they were denied bail.
Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini were remanded in custody until September 24, 2014 during yesterday’s court session, as their lawyer Leo Gama applied for a postponement of the case to enable the pair’s legal team to challenge the Suppression of Terrorism Act No.3 of 2008 that they are charged under.
Swaziland is in effect an absolute monarchy, although the country holds general elections. These elections were heavily criticized by the Commonwealth Observer Mission, who monitored last years’ election. Amongst other things because all parties are banned and the king chooses the Prime Minister, the government, a large proportion of the senators, and in effect wields a large influence over the election of MP’s through a chief-controlled system, as well as the legal system.
Over two thirds of the Swazi population survives on under a dollar a day, many on food aid from the United Nations.
Read the full statement below:
Statement of support in the trial of Swazi democracy advocates Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini
The Red-Green Alliance party, Denmark, 16. June 2014
Mario Masuku, President of the pro-democracy People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) in Swaziland, and PUDEMO youth league Secretary General and student leader, Maxwell Dlamini, were arrested and imprisoned on May Day. They have since have been charged with sedition, and for contravening the Swazi Suppression of Terrorism Act, for giving support to a “terrorist entity” – PUDEMO. They will appear in court today, 16. June.
Mario Masuku had delivered a speech to the Swazi trade union confederation TUCOSWA where he merely expressed support for his organization, PUDEMO. Maxwell Dlamini had allegedly sung a song that included the words “the king must go”, and both had allegedly shouted “viva PUDEMO” together with the thousands of others who had gathered to show their dissatisfaction with king Mswati III’s absolute monarchy, that has left two thirds of the population in absolute poverty whilst a small elite live in luxury. They have both been refused bail.
The Red-Green Alliance wishes to extend these two comrades our full and unequivocal support, and want to state clearly that we believe that such preposterous charges prove that the Swazi regime simply wishes to lock up anyone who questions its undemocratic rule, however peacefully.
Today, 38 years ago, thousands of students like Maxwell Dlamini, who were equally tired of being oppressed by an unjust and divisive political system, revolted in Soweto in apartheid-South Africa. They eventually prevailed, amongst other means by winning the support of the international community.
People in Swaziland are simply asking the Danish government, and other governments and NGO’s, to support Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini in their struggle for democracy and socio-economic justice.
The arrest of Masuku and Dlamini follows the arrests of, amongst others, PUDEMO’s Secretary General, Mlungisi Makhanya, who was arrested along with six other members of the organization for wearing a T-shirt with PUDEMO’s logo at a trial.
The arrests have been condemned by, amongst others, the South African trade union federation COSATU, in a press release that described Swaziland as “one big national prison”.
Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini have been arrested on questionable charges several times before, and Maxwell Dlamini claims to have been tortured by the police in 2011. He was receiving treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Stine Brix, Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, Pernille Skipper, Rosa Lund, Nikolaj Willumsen, Per Clausen, Finn Sørensen, Lars Dohn, Henning Hyllested, Jørgen Arbo-Bæhr, Frank Aaen, Christian Juhl – all members of Parliament of Denmark for The Red-Green Alliance
The Red-Green Alliance is a democratic socialist party which aims to combine politics for social change with politics for solving the great environmental problems both on national and international level.
The Red-Green Alliance has, for several years now, been in a project partnership with PUDEMO that seeks to assist the organization in the achievement of its ultimate goal – achieving democracy and socio-economic justice for all Swazis.
31. January 2014
Maxwell’s and Musa’s trial was again postponed. “It was postponed because the crown submitted their papers very late so defence and magistrate couldn’t read through those papers and make arguments,” he told the campaign.
According to another source from the democratic movement, “when the Courts closed last year, there was an application for acquittal presented by the legal team of the accused due to lack of evidence. It was then agreed that the defence team would submit the application for acquittal on the 13th Jan 2014. However, the application was eventually submitted on the 17th of the same month and in that way the initial agreement was a little disturbed. Hence the Magistrate was unable to deliver the judgement yesterday. There was then an agreement that case be rescheduled for the 11th February wherein both parties (Prosecution and Defense) will make their viva voce submissions and the Magistrate will make a ruling thereafter.”
18. December 2013
Maxwell case moves towards judgement
The crown has officially closed its case against Maxwell today. The defense has officially applied for acquittal based on section 174 of the criminal procedure and evidence act. Judgement has been reserved for 30 Jan 2014.
4. October 2013
Maxwell’s case postponed
Maxwell’s case was possibly to have been finalized yesterday. Unfortunately, the case was postponed yet again, although for once it wasn’t the fault of the prosecution. “The case was postponed as Max and Ngubeni`s lawyer was not present for he was ill disposed,” according to a source from Swaziland’s democratic movement.
2. September 2013
Maxwell gets student activist award
Swazi activist and student leader, Maxwell Dlamini, has been given the All-Africa Students’ Union’s 2013 Student Activist Award, for ”the role he has played in Swazi and African students’ movements.”
”The Union truly appreciates your many years of dedication and commitment to promoting students welfare and development. You truly epitomize the spirit of this award,” the All-Africa Students’ Union wrote in the awards letter sent to Maxwell.
”I feel humbled and honoured to receive such a prestigious award in recognition of our many years of dedication and commitment to promoting student’s welfare and development”, Maxwell Dlamini said in a statement. ”I dedicate this award to the ordinary students who have been denied scholarships, without decent jobs, without education and all those who have been injured, butchered, beaten, arrested, tortured and forced into exile while we were fighting for democracy and students rights. Our struggle is noble and will be victorious despite the setbacks. and brutal repression we receive from the state.”
There was a ceremony to go with the award in Accra, Ghana, on Monday, but Maxwell could not attend because the police have his passport as part of his strict bail terms.
Maxwell Dlamini was detained in 2011, together with fellow activist Musa Ngubeni, on charges of contravening Swaziland’s Explosives Act. Both Maxwell and Musa claim that they were tortured during their detainment in 2011. They were both released on bail in February 2012, although Maxwell was both arrested and released on bail yet again in 2013.
30. August 2013
The court case of two political activists in the tiny absolute monarchy of Swaziland is getting increasingly farcical. Secretary General of youth league SWAYOCO, Maxwell Dlamini, and political activist Musa Ngubeni were arrested in 2011 on charges of contravening Swaziland’s Explosives Act.
One example of the farcical nature of the case is the alleged “evidence” of the explosives. First, one of the prosecution witnesses, whose testimony had contradicted that of two other witnesses, claimed that the explosives were too dangerous to bring to court. Then suddenly the explosives had apparently exploded after a South African bomb expert had allegedly tried to assemble it.
The defense attorney then requested to have the remnants of the alleged explosives presented in court, which the prosecution has failed to do. Instead, the prosecution wished to use undated photographs apparently taken by the South African bomb expert of what they claimed was the remnants of the explosives as evidence, which the court refused.
Generally, the court has failed to produce any evidence against Maxwell and Musa.
Both Maxwell and Musa claim that they have been tortured during their detainment in 2011, and the stiff bail of 50,000 Rand (the highest ever in Swazi legal history), the arduous bail conditions, and a seemingly endless court case is a commonly used way of trying to scare off other potential activists, according to the members of Swaziland’s democratic movement that I have spoken to.
The case will continue on October 3.
12. August 2013
Swaziland’s absolute monarchy has a record of harassing, torturing and arbitrarily detaining political activists, and then either leaving them to rot in prison while waiting for the completion of seemingly endless court cases, or releasing them on bail, after which they must endure arduous bail conditions for years on end.
This harassment is both a way of trying to physically, mentally and financially break the individual activist, and a way to use him or her as an example to other potential activists. “Look what we do to anyone who is bold enough to challenge our power”.
And this harassment can have a profound effect. “Detention without trial [or the endless detentions awaiting trial] is not only a punitive act of physical and mental torture of a few patriotic individuals, but it is also a calculated act of psychological terror against the struggling millions. It is a terrorist programme for the psychological siege of the whole nation,” Kenyan writer, Ngugi Wa Thiongo’o, wrote from his prison cell.
“Torture is intended to terrorize the population represented by the individual,” says a study by the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT). “Torture may have a dramatic effect on the social and political life of a country or region. The political action of the opposition is paralyzed and the price of being a political activist is very high.”
Secretary General of the Swaziland Youth Council, and Commerce student, Maxwell Dlamini, has experienced the traumatizing effects of such treatment. He has been detained, tortured, imprisoned, charged with terrorism, and is presently on bail, awaiting the completion of two trials against him that could see him sentenced to a total of 44 years in prison.
He has also been denied proper treatment in prison after having suffered a stroke that meant he could not use the lower part of his left arm and he was forcefully interrogated by what appeared to be hired South African police investigators without his lawyer being present.
“I had to be admitted for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder because of the torture and inhumane treatment I received at the hands of the police”, explains Maxwell. His torturers repeatedly suffocated him with a plastic bag, threatened to kill him, made him stand naked, insulted him, and left him in a cell with no lights, toilet, food or water.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder leads to “repetitive, intrusive recollection or re-enactment of the event in memories, daytime imagery, or dreams,” according to the study by the RCT. Something that Maxwell literally has to face several times a week.
Because his bail conditions include reporting four times a week at the police station in Mbabane (40 km from Maxwell’s home), they only serve to reinforce the traumatic events. “The police reporting and court case i taking a hard toll on my well being”, he says. “The treatment from the cops makes the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder worse for me”.
Maxwell also believes that there is an element of harassment in the charade of having to report to the police. “It is a physical, psychological and emotional trauma for me to wake up and have to go to Mbabane to report. I have to wait for up to two hours just to sign on the record book and go back. Never mind the financial drain it is for me for going to Mbabane everyday to report, especially as I don’t have any source of income [Maxwell lost his government scholarship due to his political activism]”.
But Maxwell is nevertheless in some respects more fortunate than his fellow-political prisoners, many of whom suffer without the support and publicity that Maxwell has received through amongst other things the international Free Maxwell Dlamini campaign that saw thousands of people from all over the world campaign for his release.
The support that he has received from both inside and outside Swaziland is keeping him in relatively good spirits, he says. “Thanks to the support of democracy loving people I am coping. If it wasn’t for all the support I have received, I am sure I would have been torn apart by now”.
Maxwell doesn’t regret the price he has had to pay for his efforts and nor is he afraid or ashamed to tell his story, however hard it may be to do so. “What drives me is the creation of a just society. I don’t feel ashamed, embarrassed or guilty for being subjected to the most inhumane treatment at the hands of security agents”.
And neither should he be. Not for himself, nor for other political activists who risk being tortured by the regime. For “keeping silent about the existence of torture and silencing the voices of torture survivors gives impunity to the perpetrators,” as the RCT study concludes.
One of Maxwell’s heroes, political activist Steve Biko, who paid the ultimate price for his fearlessness in fighting the apartheid regime in South Africa, certainly epitomised the need to overcome fear in the fight against repressive and violent regimes, even under interrogation and torture. “You are either alive and proud or you are dead,” said Biko. “And your method of death can in itself be a politicizing thing. So if you can overcome the personal fear for death then you are on the way.”
Maxwell is charged with advocating a boycott of this years undemocratic elections in Swaziland, and for the alleged possession of explosives, a charge that Maxwell strenuously denies. Maxwell has been nominated for two human rights awards – the Irish “Front Line Defenders Award for Human Right’s Defenders at Risk” and the Norwegian “Student Peace Prize.”
Swaziland ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 2004. Nevertheless, Amnesty International recently reported that “severe beatings and suffocation torture” are “persistent forms of ill-treatment” in police custody in Swaziland. In their most recent report on freedom in the world, American NGO Freedom House gave Swaziland a 7 – the lowest score – for political rights, stating that “torture in interrogations” has “increased in recent years”, and that “leaders and participants in anti-government protests” were “specifically targeted”.
You can support Maxwell’s struggle by contributing towards his tuition fees, bail fee, or medical bills for his Post-traumatic Disorder treatment through Africa Contact’s Mandela Foundation.
6. July 2013
Maxwell out on bail
Swazi youth leader Maxwell Dlamini was given bail yesterday after a second lengthy detention and several delays in his bail hearing. Maxwell was arrested in April by no less than 23 police officers, charged with sedition and participating in an unlawful activity. His “crime” was to organize and participate in a campaign that advocates the boycott of Swaziland’s sham elections later in the year.
As is the case with other political prisoners, Maxwell has been ill treated by both the police and by prison officers whilst in custody. According to Maxwell, he has been beaten whilst in prison and in 2011, prior to his ongoing trial where he is charged with offences under the Explosives Act, he was tortured, as both Maxwell and Amnesty International’s 2012 Annual Report have stated.
According to Mcolisi Ngcamphalala from the Swaziland Youth Congress, where Maxwell is Secretary General, they are happy that Maxwell is out, as they believe the state has no case against him, but angry at the continuous imprisonment and harassing of those who peacefully advocate democracy in Swaziland.
“News that the Secretary General of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) have been granted bail, are not only welcome but vindicating our long held conviction that there is no case against Maxwell,” says Ngcamphalala. “We condemn the state for having delayed the finalisation of the bail application thus frustrated Maxwell, academically, personally and morally. We also reiterate our call for the unconditional release of SWAYOCO president Bheki Dlamini and all political prisoners, languishing inside and those outside on bail, including comrade Maxwell.”
5. July 2013
Maxwell released on bail
27. June 2013
Maxwell’s bail hearing continues on 2. July
“SWAYOCO secretary General Comrade Maxwell Dlamini appeared before Judge Qinisile Mabuza Yesterday for his bail hearing, the case will continue next week Tuesday 2 July 2013,” SWAYOCO said in a statement today.
26. June 2013
Maxwell’s bail hearing postponed yet again…
Update on Release Maxwell Campaign Maxwell’s bail hearing started today at the High Court of Swaziland at 8:30am from Swaziland National Union of Students: “The case was before Judge Qinisile Mabuza. The defense lawyer laid his arguments before the court and by 9:30, the judge had another case to attend. Therefore, the bail hearing was postponed to next week Tuesday (2. July 2013) at 8:30 am because the prosecutor will not be available tomorrow as he is leaving the country and will only be back on Sunday.”
10 June 2013
Maxwell has new lawyer for bail hearing Friday
Maxwell is now being represented by lawyer Leo Gama. His bail hearing is on Friday.
6. June 2013
Swayoco Secretary General in Court tomorrow
The Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) would like to inform its membership and all democracy loving people that the Secretary General Comrade Maxwell Dlamini would appear in court for his remand hearing tomorrow.
Cde Maxwell was arrested after Swayoco’s successful National rally on April 19. He was the third to be arrested and charged with sedition after cde Derrick Nkhambule and Mfanawenkhosi Mntjali. AsSwayoco we believe Cde Maxwell and Others are innocent thus should be released.
All comrades are called to cram the courtroom tomorrow to support the comrades and uplift their morale in the face of the enemy. The case begins at 9am at the Margistrate Court in Mbabane.
Lest we forget,Remember Comrade President Bheki Dlamini and his co accused are also still behind bars, we should intensify the Realease Mabhekzo and All political prisoners campaign as we wage this struggle for the Democracy in Swaziland.
Swayoco lives – Swayoco Leads. Amandla!!
Issued by: Swayoco Deputy Secretary General Magagula Mpumi +268 76404974 email@example.com
5. June 2013
Maxwell claims to have been beaten in prison
According to the Swazi Observer, Maxwell Dlamini and two other prisoners clamined they have been beaten and assaulted by prison officers. Read more here.
16. May 2013
Maxwell’s bail hearing postponed
8. May 2013
Mark Simmonds, Minister for Africa, the Overseas Territories, Caribbean and International Energy, letter to Heidi Alexander MP on 8. May 2013:
”Britain is deeply concerned about the reduced opportunities for political expression and the increase in human rights violations in Swaziland, ahead of Parliamentary elections due to take place in the Autumn. We strongly condemn the harassment and imprisonment of activists such as Maxwell Dlamini … I met with Swazi Deputy Prime Minister Masuku on 17 April at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and emphasised our serious concerns about the contraction of the democratic space in Swaziland … We will raise recent cases, including Mr Dlamini’s arrest with the Swazi authorities at the highest possible level”.
8. May 2013
ANC calls for the release of political prisoners in Swaziland
In a statement from Chairperson of the African National Congress NEC Sub-Committee on International Relations Obed Bapela on May 7, the ANC called for the release of all political prisoners in Swaziland.
“The democratization of Swaziland must preoccupy the work of the African National Congress and all progressive forces as we call for the release of political prisoners, return of exiles and free political activities in that country.”
The ANC has previously sent mixed messages regarding Swaziland.
Read the whole statement here: http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=10235
7. May 2013
Unconfirmed reports of Maxwell being tortured
Maxwell is due to appear in court on 9 May 2013, according to a source in the democracy movement. “We are told he is being tortured even though they cannot confirm this as he is closely guarded.”
25. April 2013
Maxwell charged with sedition
“The arrest follows a SWAYOCO rally which was held on the 19th of April in Mbabane,” said a source from within Swaziland’s democratic movement. “Maxwell was called prior to the rally and told to call it off. On 23 April at around 10 am when he went for his usual reporting at the police station, he was arrested. At that time they told him that they are arresting him for participating in an unlawful activity. This morning when he appeared before the magistrate, his charge was not read to him because it wasn’t ready but he was told to come back on the 2nd of May. He was remanded into custody till that time. He was told to apply for bail at the high court. The charge sheet said he was charged with two counts of sedition.”
24. April 2013
Maxwell charged … again
“Maxwell Dlamini is appearing before the Mbabane magistrate court tomorow at 9 am. The charge is, participating in an unlwaful activity,” according to Swaziland National Union of Students.
“Sonkhe Dube the international secretary of SWAYOCO has since been released after detention for the whole 17 hours. Maxwell has officially been charged with a crime of organising and participation in an illegal activity on the 19th in Mbabane under the 1963 public order act, and is due to appear in court today,” according to the Swaziland United Democratic Front.
“Maxwell Dlamini sent back to police custody until 2 May. Nothing was mentioned regarding bail,” said a source within the democratic movement.
23. April 2013
According to a source within the democratic movement, Secretary General of SWAYOCO Maxwell Dlamini and Secretary for International Affairs Sonkhke Dube were arrested this morning. “They have been arrested and are in the custody of the Royal Police. The charges are not clear. Both of them were arrested this morning,” the source says.
According to PUDEMO, “about 23 Police officers arrested SWAYOCO Secretary for International, Comrade Sonkhe Dube. He was arrested at Matsanjeni. This Government is in a serious mission to silence and send more threats to the entire glorious movement”
The arrests of the two SWAYOCO leaders follow the police clamp down on a SWAYOCO rally on April 19 to campaign for an election boycott. There have also been several recent arrests of other activists in Swaziland, including Wonder Mkhonza, Mfanawnkosi ‘Boer’ Mntshaliand and Derrick Nkambule, the latter two who were allegedly tortured according to South African trade union federation COSATU.
8. April 2013
Maxwell addresses British National Union of Students’ 2013 National Conference
“Today as the student’s of Swaziland, we ask for your solidarity and the hand of friendship to the students, youth and oppressed people of Swaziland,” he said in a recorded message shown at the conference. See the address here.
19. March 2013
Case postponed to late-July – new prosecutor needs time to prepare
Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni’s court case has been postponed to 26 July 2013 to give the new prosecutor time to familiarise himself with case.
8. March 2013
Maxwell and Musa’s case postponed again
The case of Maxwell Dlamini, Secretary General of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), and former student leader Musa Ngubeni was postponed yet again Wednesday.
The case was supposed to have been concluded with the prosecutor’s final cross-examination of witnesses. But instead the he formally withdrew from the case, the third prosecutor to do so, citing ”own work commitments”, according to a SWAYOCO statement.
Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni were abducted and tortured by Swazi security forces before a democracy rally in 2011. They were subsequently charged with possession of explosives, allegations they both deny, but released on bail in 2012 after the international Free Maxwell Dlamini-campaign had called for their release.
Swaziland’s democratic movement and neutral observers of the case claim that the real reason for the many postponements, prosecutor withdrawels, and other discrepancies is the fact that the prosecution have produced no credible evidence against Dlamini and Ngubeni, and are merely stalling to inconvenience them as much as possible.
6. March 2013
SNUS elects new leadership during vibrant congress
“The congress was characterised by vigorous and vibrant debate which saw the students of Swaziland declaring the year 2013 as a year of action, turning each and every institution into a site of struggle for democracy and quality education for all,” outgoing President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), Maxwell Dlamini, tells Africa Contact.
Maxwell Dlamini congratulated his replacement as President, Mnikelo Dlamini, and applauded the fact that several women were elected into the leadership if SNUS for the first time in the history of the organisation.
Mancoba Mabuza, a former UNISWA student, in turn praised Maxwell’s leadership.“Congratulations for leading SNUS into greater heights, for your passion to serve the students and the youth, for leading the students union even when you were in prison! You have done exceptionally well and you were also able to mentor other leaders who have just succeeded yourself.”
During the congress, SNUS pledged to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections in Swaziland, says Maxwell Dlamini, and work other pro-democracy organisations in a campaign to try and persuade the population at large not to participate either.
According to the latest report from Freedom House, Swaziland’s population effectively have no political rights and very limited civil liberties. “Swaziland is not an electoral democracy. King Mswati III is an absolute monarch with ultimate authority over the cabinet, legislature, and judiciary.”
As for student-related matters, Maxwell Dlamini says that the congress pledged that SNUS will continue to campaign against unjust educational policies and in solidarity with Swaziland’s youth and students. “We resolved to offer solidarity to other oppressed people of the youth most especially the youth and students who are subjected to the same harsh treatment of dictators.”
A Working Paper from the World Bank called The Education System in Swaziland, describes the educational system in Swaziland’s “key weaknesses pertain to low access uneven and inequitable quality, acute inequalities, resource inefficiency, poor relevance and weak strategic direction and delivery capacity.”
22. January 2013
SWAYOCO leadership on behalf of its membership would like to congratulate the entire mass of the organisation for its successful elective Congress as well as welcome the mandate to lead this glorious organisation as given by delegates of this fighting detachment of the struggling youth.
The newly elected leadership is charged with a responsibility to revive the dying flames of hope for national liberation in our life time, to unite the entire youth of Swaziland under the vision espoused by PUDEMO as well as to cast far and wide the net of solidarity for our struggle. As leadership we are humbled that we were mandated to lead such a revolutionary organisation and we promise to do so in the best way possible.
We would also like to inform all out members, comrades, international friends, allies and democracy loving people of the world that the case of the two brave young lions, comrade Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni continues tomorrow, January 23 2013 at the Sigodvweni police station in Matsapha starting at 9am.
Comrade Maxwell and Musa are on trial for trumped up charges for allegedly being found in possession of explosives during the April 12 Uprising in 2011 – a movement inspired by similar uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. They are currently out on a E50 000 bail given to each of them, the highest bail ever for a case dealt with at the lower courts. These comrades are forced to report four times a week at the Mbabane Police Station—itself a very strenuous condition.
This case is just another of the many cases where the autocratic Tinkhundla regime uses the judiciary to criminalise any political activity, to silence dissenting views and intimidate brave young men and women who have stood up against Mswati’s regime.
SWAYOCO believes that these two young and brave lions are innocent hence we call for the unconditional dropping of all the charges against them. SWAYOCO seeks to clarify that the only crime these two comrades have committed was to demand amongst many, food for all, sustainable jobs for the youth, scholarships for all young people, free education, multi-party democracy, respect of the rule law and an end to Mswati’s dictatorship.
It is on that premise that SWAYOCO calls upon all peace loving and democracy loving people of the world to continue to support these freedom fighters and call for the immediate end to Mswati’s dictatorship. We also call upon members of the Mass democratic Movement in Swaziland to cram the Sigodvweni Police Station tomorrow morning at 9am in support of these young lions.
SWAYOCO will not long from now launch a radical campaign which will seek to call for the Release of SWAYOCO President, Comrade Bheki Dlamini and all other political prisoners. The campaign will be part of a bigger liberation program that will stop the undemocratic Tinkhundla elections and usher in a democratic dispensation.
Liberation in our lifetime!
Statement issued by
Cell: + 268 76404974
20. January 2013
Maxwell elected SWAYOCO Secretary General
Maxwell Dlamini was elected Secretary General of the Swaziland Youth Congress. “I am humbled by the honour and faith given to me by the oppressed youth of Swaziland to lead in the implementation of the progressive programme that seeks to mobilise and unite all youth against all forms of oppression,” Maxwell Dlamini told the Free Maxwell campaign.
6. January 2013
“The external region of SWAYOCO is disgusted and disturbed by reports that [Swazi] student leader Maxwell Dlamini was arrested [on Friday] for allegedly not abiding by his bail conditions,” SWAYOCO’s Wandile Mazibuko wrote in a statement published on PUDEMO’s Facebook account yesterday.
“This is despite that Maxwell has been religiously observing and abiding by all the bail conditions as set out by the High Court. If anything, it has been the state that has been giving this reason or the other for failure to capture on the record books his reporting to the police station,” Mazibuko continued.
Maxwell Dlamini spent four hours in detention, according to the Swazi Observer, a newspaper owned by autocratic king Mswati III.
Maxwell, who is the president of the Swaziland Union of Students, was detained and tortured by Swazi police in connection with allegations of possession of explosives, allegations that he and his co-accused Musa Ngubeni strenuously deny.
The court case that followed this has so far proved no credible evidence against Maxwell and Musa, but the terms for his bail included a massive 50 000 Rand bail settlement, reporting to Mbabane Police station three times a week, and having had his passport withheld.
3. January 2013
“We will not partake in these undemocratic elections in Swaziland unless political parties are unbanned. We seek to intensify our boycott,” Swaziland Nationals Union of Students (SNUS) President Maxwell Dlamini told Africa Contact today.
Maxwell Dlamini, who has himself been tortured and harassed by Swazi security forces and has currently been on trial for over a year in a case that has brought no credible evidence against him, also said that SNUS were mobilizing against this year’s elections in Swaziland, both at home and abroad.
“We as the youth of Swaziland commit ourselves fully to mobilise all young people and the generally oppressed people of Swaziland not to partake in these elections. We also call on the international community to shun the [Swazi] Tinkundla elections and call for King Mswati III to unban political parties and respect fundamental human rights.”
Swaziland is effectively an absolute monarchy where the constitution allows the King to appoint and fire government ministers and members of parliament at will. American research and advocacy NGO Freedom House rates Swaziland as “Not Free”, stating in its 2012 report that “Swaziland is not an electoral democracy.” Human Rights Watch states in its 2012 World Report that “Under Swazi law and custom, all powers are vested in the king.”
1. January 2013
Maxwell: Court case postponed but nearing its end
“We did go to court but unfortunately it didn’t proceed. It was postponed to the 5th of February. The prosecution will close its case on that particular day,” Maxwell Dlamini told the Free Maxwell campaign. “Then our lawyer will either apply for us to be acquitted based on the lack of evidence or call witnesses. We remain hopeful that the truth will finally emerge in this case.”
19. November 2012
Light at the end of the tunnel for Maxwell?
“The state will be concluding its case on the 7th December 2012 and we will then know whether to state our case or not. The case might end next year,” Maxwell Dlamini told the Free Maxwell Campaign today.
“Our lawyer was present on Friday. Unfortunately it couldn’t take off because the lawyer requested for some time to go and read the court record after the day it proceeded without his present.”
4. November 2012
No legal representation for Swazi student leaders in court case
“Once again the student activists, Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni appeared before Magistrate Gumedze without any legal representation,” Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice (FSEJ) wrote in a press statement on Friday.
Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni were both abducted and tortured by Swazi security forces during the so-called April 12 Uprising in April 2011, and were later charged with possession of explosives. They were released on bail in February, amongst other things as a result of the international Free Maxwell Dlamini campaign calling for his release.
“Without granting them a postponement to allow them time get legal representation, Magistrate Gumedze opted to continue with the case by calling the state witness to give evidence,” the FSEJ press statement continued.
“He [Magistrate Gumedze] instructed the two to take notes on behalf of their lawyer so they share them with him after the session. He also mentioned that should their lawyer fail to appear on the 16th of November 2012, the two must be prepared to cross examine the state witness themselves.”
27. September 2012
Maxwell denied scholarship for being ‘progressive’
Maxwell Dlamini, president of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), has been denied his university scholarship by the government because of his political activity, he said.
Dlamini was called to the scholarship selection board today (27 September 2012), where he hoped to be allowed to continue his law studies at the University of Swaziland, but he said he was denied for being a ‘progressive’.
Writing on Facebook, Dlamini, said he was questioned about his activities in SNUS and ‘why I cause all the noise in the tertiary institutions [and] why I want to overthrow the government.’
He added, ‘In the end they denied me scholarship for being a member of a progressives and causing noise in the institutions.’
Dlamini and fellow student leader Musa Ngubeni were arrested on charges of possessing explosives in April 2011 and spent some months in jail before being released on bail following an international outcry.
Their court case is ongoing.
In March 2012 it was reported that new rules for students were being drafted to allow ‘at its discretion’, the Scholarship Selection Board to terminate a scholarship ‘when a student is a member, supports or furthers the activities of a banned entity’. In Swaziland all political parties are banned, as are a number of pro-democracy organisations, including the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and the Swaziland Solidarity Network.
Source: Swazi Media Commentary
Help Maxwell pay it so he can continue his studies.
Contact details: Maxwell Dlamini, tlf. 00268 7816 3172, firstname.lastname@example.org
21. September 2012
Maxwell and Musa case continues
The case against student leaders Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni continued today at Sigodvweni Police Station in Matsapha, Swaziland.
“Today the case progressed with two state witnesses giving evidence. After submissions from witnesses and a cross examination by the defense, the case has been postponed to the 28th of September,” the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice Informations Officer, Mbali Dlamini, said in a press statement today.
Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni were abducted and tortured by Swazi security forces during the so-called April 12 Uprising in April 2011, and were later charged with possession of explosives. They were both released on bail in February, amongst other things as a result of the international Free Maxwell Dlamini campaign calling for his release.
6. September 2012
Today, 44 years ago, Swaziland gained independence from Great Britain. Like many other postcolonial African nations, after the initial excitement Swaziland’s postcolonial years have been disappointing, however.
Two thirds of the population survives on less than a dollar a day, many on food aid. Swaziland has the highest Aids prevalence rate per capita in the world. And whatever money the nation has is squandered by absolute monarch King Mswati III, who controls the nations land and finances, and who brutally suppresses any dissent towards his rule.
The reasons for this predicament are manifold and include both external and internal reasons. One could argue that the colonial era, the influence of big business – particularly Coca Cola – on the Swazi economy, the demands of the IMF, and neighbouring South Africa’s de facto support of the regime all form part of the reason for the lack of democracy and socioeconomic development and justice in Swaziland.
But today, and throughout this week, the Swazi democratic movement are holding their annual Global Week of Action to focus on the internal reasons for the misery and lack of influence of the vast majority of Swazis. And these reasons all evolve around the undemocratic and corrupt rule of absolute monarch, King Mswati III.
The events of the week of action have focused, amongst other things, on the many thousands of Swazis who are starving, several who have eaten cow dung to survive; on an education system that ought to be free, gender-unbiased, non-partisan and relevant to the present situation; on a deteriorated health system that cannot cope with very high rates of HIV infection and child and maternal mortality; and on creating a people’s summit that will “create a genuine and open platform for discussion for all the people of Swaziland” that will produce a people’s charter in demand of a “people’s government now.”
And the Swazi police and security forces have, as always whenever there is any form of dissent towards the regime, already clamped down on the attempts of the democratic movement to march, congregate and show the rest of the world that Swazis are fed up with the present regime.
One example of this brutality happened on Tuesday, where police tried to detain Swaziland National Union of Students President, Maxwell Dlamini, during a march. Earlier in the week Dlamini had encouraged students and activists to “render the [the Swazi system of] tinkhundla ungovernable,” and insisted that the movement remains “resilient and defiant despite the police brutality and violence against unarmed students who are demanding democracy and education for all.”
Maxwell Dlamini slipped away, however, aided by the several hundreds of students who were trying peacefully to demonstrate for democracy and deliver a petition to the Minister of Education, after which the police fired teargas and shots into the crowd, made indiscriminate arrests and beat up several students, other activists and innocent bystanders with batons, according the Swazi media and the democratic movement.
“One such person was a female student who lay on the ground as police officers beat her up with batons until some street vendors begged them to stop,” reported the Swazi Observer, a newspaper owned by the king. “When they stormed a shop, screams of people being assaulted with batons could be heard from a considerable distance.”
“Unarmed students and other activists were today sprayed with teargas and violently beaten by the police,” said a joint statement from the Swaziland United Democratic Front and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign. “The regime will stop at nothing to delay and deny Swazis their freedom even if it means being violence on unarmed citizens.”
The Swazi democratic movement do not stand alone in their struggle, however. There have been demonstrations outside several Swazi embassies and consulates throughout the world, not least in South Africa and Britain, several organisation sent delegations to the various events of the Global Week of Action, including British trade union federation UNISON, SAMWU and NUMSA from South Africa, and the International Trade Union Council Africa, and several organisations have stated their support for the movement.
“SATUCC and its affiliates shall continue to pressure relevant SADC structures as well as member states to prevail upon the Kingdom of Swaziland to uphold the principles under the SADC Treaty [http://www.sadc.int/index/browse/page/120 ]in particular Article 4 (c) which requires member states to act in accordance with the principle of human rights, democracy and rule of law,” said the Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council in a statement yesterday.
“COSATU is not pulling out its support in Swaziland until democracy is achieved,” Second Deputy President Zingiswa Losi of the South African trade federation, COSATU, told those assembled at a demonstration outside the Swaziland Consulate offices in Bramfontein.
“All of Africa is behind democracy in Swaziland, and until there is democracy in Swaziland, all of Africa will not rest,” said the Secretary General of the African department of the International Trade Union Confederation, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah.
4. September 2012
Police attempt to arrest Maxwell during democracy protest
The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) reports police targeted Swaziland National Union of Students leader Maxwell Dlamini for arrest at the bus rank in the Swazi capital, Mbabane, during the second day of this years Global Week of Action.
When Dlamini’s fellow students prevented his arrest, police fired teargas and used batons against the students.
Early reports say Dlamini escaped arrest and fled the scene and is being protected by students.
12. August 2012
Maxwell denied scholarship for being politically active?
It would seem that Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini is being punished doubly for having actively engaged himself in Swaziland’s democratic movement. Maxwell, a commerce student, was detained and tortured by Swazi police and sat his last exams from prison where he was remanded until February accused of possession of explosives. Now he is in effect being denied the possibility to continue his studies.
“I have been readmitted at the university. The only problem I currently face now is the issue of scholarship. I did apply for government scholarship a month ago and still I haven’t received any correspondence. I have also did make a follow up but still there have been no correspondence,” Maxwell Dlamini told Africa Contact yesterday [August 11].
“What is surprising though is that all those whom I am supposed to be in class with and those I applied with had been successfully given scholarships. It’s pretty bad that lectures are beginning this week while am still unofficial registered as a student because I haven’t yet paid the tuition and book fees.”
Maxwell is set to return to court on Friday the 17th of August in a court case that has failed to produce any concrete evidence against him in over a year.
To help enable Maxwell Dlamini to continue his studies or to contribute towards paying off his staggering 5000 Euro bail, please contact him at: tlf. 00268 7816 3172 or email@example.com
7. August 2012
Swazi students to hold conference amidst national crisis
The Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) – one of the most dynamic organisations in the Swazi democratic movement – is to hold their general conference between October 12 and 14 amidst mounting economic and social crisis in Swaziland. SNUS has invited foreign delegations, including student organisations, unions and others from around the world to take part in the conference that will include presentations, discussions, and workshops on the role of education in development.
The government of Swaziland’s absolute monarch, King Mswati III, has reacted with increased brutality to any protests against its rule. SNUS President Maxwell Dlamini has himself felt this brutality on several occasions, most recently when he was detained, tortured and wrongfully charged last year.
He has since been released on bail and no credible charges have been brought against him during his court case. In a mail to Africa Contact, he said that SNUS “especially seeks to invite all those that were involved in the Free Maxwell Dlamini-campaign” that he says played an important role in him being released on bail.
The invitation to the conference states that the conference in to revolve around the theme “building a united, vibrant and radical student movement in Swaziland to transform education and society,” and that delegates – local and international – are urged to join in the discussion of these matters in regard to both Swaziland and internationally.
SNUS has always insisted that their role, apart from being to deal with concrete students issues, is to help bring about a political system in Swaziland that upholds the rights and welfare of students and other citizens alike.
“We are members of the community before we are students,” as SNUS motto goes. But Swaziland is presently a community where King Mswati III rules by decree and spends excessively of the national coffers, where two thirds of the population live in absolute poverty, where secondary and tertiary education is well beyond the means of most people, and where the scholarships of those who have somehow been able to afford further education have been lowered as a consequence of Swaziland’s financial quagmire that is mainly due to government corruption, overspending and financial mismanagement.
To contact the organisers of the conference:
Maxwell Dlamini, SNUS President, 00268 7816 3172, firstname.lastname@example.org
Palesa Dlamini, SNUS Secretary for Gender and International Affairs, 00268 7636 2273, email@example.com
20. July 2012
Maxwell re-admitted to university
“I have been re-admitted at the university and have to commence my lectures on the 9th of august 2012,” Maxwell Dlamini told the Free Maxwell Campaign today. Although Maxwell’s court case is still ongoing, it would thus seem that the regime doesn’t really see Maxwell as any kind of terrorist – if so, why allow him to restart his studies at the University of Swaziland.
24. May 2012
Amnesty report criticises Swazi regime’s treatment of Maxwell and Musa
From Amnesty International Annual Report 2012:
“Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, was detained between 10 and 12 April and held incommunicado without access to a lawyer or contact with his family. The day after his release he was rearrested, along with Musa Ngubeni, a political activist and former student activist leader. They were denied legal access while in police custody and during their hearing at the magistrate’s court, and were charged with offences under the Explosives Act. They were denied bail on the grounds that their release would undermine public peace and security. On 20 December, the High Court overturned the decision but ordered their release on bail of 50,000 emalangeni (US$6,135) each. They were still in custody at the end of the year.”
19. May 2012
Maxwell: trial postponed again
The trial of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni was meant to have continued last Wednesday. “Actually the case did not proceed,” Maxwell told the Free Maxwell Dlamini campaign yesterday. “The prosecutor was absent and they didn’t bring in the last witnesses. Surely they are now delaying the case and they want us to be on indefinite bail. On Monday we are going for a resetting of a new trial date.”
3. May 2012
Maxwell and Musa on indefinite bail?
“We may be acquitted or the government will do as it always does, keep us on indefinite bail,” says president of the Swaziland National Union of Students, Maxwell Dlamini. “We are just hoping that the trial will be over very soon. We are to know the direction it will take after the 16th of May 2012, where the next [court] sitting will be. Until now they haven’t led any evidence that links us to the charges.”
He and his fellow accused, law graduate and former student leader Musa Ngubeni, are on trial for allegedly being in possession of explosives in connection with last April’s protests against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy on the 38th anniversary of the country’s state of emergency and banning of all political parties.
Both insist that they are innocent and were tortured by police and told they would be killed for helping to organise the peaceful protest action. ““I was tied to a bench with my face looking upwards and they suffocated me with the black plastic bag. They did that over and over again till I collapsed. They told me that they will kill me for causing trouble in the country,” Maxwell told Africa Contact in March.
Delaying trials, keeping suspects on indefinite bail and generally harassing them are methods commonly employed by the regime in Swaziland against political activists. Being on indefinite bail severely restricts the freedom of movement of activists such as Maxwell and Musa. They have to report to the Mbabane Regional Police Station four times a week, even though they live in Manzini, and have had their passports taken, which means that they cannot leave the country without asking permission from the regime.
12. April 2012
Dear Swazi comrades,
We send our most sincere greetings of solidarity to you, the struggling people of Swaziland, who today and in the coming days are showing the world that you want and demand a democratic society where social, economic and democratic rights, as well as the rule of law, is respected.
In reference to King Mswati III’s speech the other day, where he stated that God is on his side and that Swaziland’s population is protected by God himself, the the Swazi people must demand a life before death, not a vague promise of redemption in the afterlife.
Swazis no longer have time for more of such nonsense. The undemocratic and repressive regime should be removed to enable a new era of democracy and socio-economic justice to shine through, because as the people of Swaziland are well aware, socio-economic change is impossible without the uprooting of King Mswati III’s undemocratic and feudalistic regime.
We share the same ideals of a society and a world where all have a say and where none are left to languish in poverty, and only through international solidarity will we be able to realize these ideals. With solidarity, we are inseparable – your struggle is our struggle.
Keep fighting the good fight. As the struggles against the apartheid regime and the North African regimes show, when a determined population stand up in unison to demand democracy and socio-economic justice no regime, police force or manner of indoctrination can stop them.
3. April 2012
“Thank you for supporting us in the London Marathon. Your contribution will actually help people like me in terms of dealing with social injustices and inequalities. So your campaigns have actually helped me in the way that I have actually been able to be released from prison through your tireless efforts of putting pressure and financial contributions towards my release when I was in jail. I strongly believe that you are going a long way in terms of helping other people in other repressive regimes and also in countries where human rights are being ignored and disregarded by government authorities or authoritarian dictators. So I believe that your contribution goes a great way towards dealing with the social injustices that [people] are suffering in other countries.”
27. March 2012
In what was the biggest student march since last year Swazi students filled the capital city to protest against the new scholarship policy, which among other things seeks to reduce the number of study loans, deprive political activists of scholarships and reduce student allowances by up 60%.
The march, which began in the afternoon, was attended by over eight hundred of students who marched to the ministry of Labour and Social Security to deliver a petition to the minister in charge of that portfolio, Mr Lutfo Dlamini. While Dlamini did not come out to receive the petition himself, other government officials accepted it on his behalf.
Students conducted themselves in a very peaceful manner on their march across town despite the continued provocation by police who stopped a bus carrying students from Ngwane College from proceeding to the capital city. However the usual singing and toyi-toying was ever present.
What almost spoilt the march was when the Royal Swazi police attempted to stop the president of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) from addressing students. Fearing that their leader was being arrested, many students formed a shield around him to protect him from the unbelievably uncouth police officers. This worked and the police eventually allowed Maxwell to speak.
Communicating through his Facebook page the SNUS president later thanked the students for protecting him from the police and stated that the march was merely a warm up as students would join their parents and school children on the 12th of April as they bring the country to a standstill once again to protest against the country’s undemocratic government.
26. March 2012
Swaziland Students Demand Scholarships, Democracy
Students in Swaziland demanding democracy and scholarships marched in their capital Monday, their small numbers illustrating the difficulties of igniting a reform movement in sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
The peaceful protest was originally scheduled last week, then postponed as organizers struggled to get it off the ground. Monday, it drew about 1,000 people, who were closely watched by about 200 riot police and other officers, some in armored vehicles. Last year, police used water cannons, tear gas, beatings and arrests to put down larger demonstrations.
At one point Monday, the president of the Swaziland National Union of Students, Maxwell Dlamini, tried to address the crowd. Police moved toward him, apparently to arrest him, and other students gathered to prevent him being taken away. Dlamini is free on bail pending trial on previous terror charges. The United States has said the kingdom’s terror laws, adopted in 2009, have been used “to silence dissent and ban certain political organizations.”
Swaziland has been in a financial crisis that government officials blame on declining customs revenue. Government critics say the problem is corruption and misspending.
Swaziland has cut spending on tuition subsidies and school supplies and has taken other steps to rein in its budget.
Monday, protesters carried signs reading “Our time for democracy is now.” Other signs criticized the minister of labor and social security, who is responsible for granting scholarships to university students.
Swaziland’s pro-democracy movement has tried to channel anger over the economy into a campaign for political reform, but many Swazis revere the monarchy, even if they agree the current monarch, King Mswati III, is living lavishly while most citizens live in poverty.
In the past, protesters have called for a new Cabinet to serve the king rather than for the toppling of the monarchy.
Mswati is accused of repressing human rights and harassing and jailing pro-democracy activists in this tiny kingdom wedged between South Africa and Mozambique. Political parties and meetings are banned, and the National Assembly is subservient to the king.
Zakhele Mabuza, spokesman for the People’s United Democratic Movement, said Monday that organizing protests is especially difficult in the rural areas where most Swazis live. There, he said, pro-democracy activists are accused of being “un-Swazi” and failing to respect the kingdom’s cultural traditions.
Mabuza added the violence the government used to put down protests last year has made it difficult to organize other protests. He also pointed to laws banning political parties, the influence of the state-owned media, and the difficulty of using social media in a country where many people aren’t connected.
The main audience for social media platforms created by Swazi activists has been among Swazis and sympathizers living outside Swaziland. Mabuza noted that that at least has the power to embarrass the government, noting that earlier this month, the prime minister told parliament he was drawing up laws to provide for ways to punish those who used social media platforms to criticize the king.
“It’s an indication that the regime is unprepared to democratize,” Mabuza said.
But he said groups like his would keep trying to educate Swazis about change, and keep trying to bring them together for protests.
“Maybe when they are together, united, demanding in one voice, things might change for they better,” he said.
3. March 2012
Maxwell: I was tortured
“I was tied to a bench with my face looking upwards and they suffocated me with the black plastic bag with a huge police officer on my stomach. They [Swazi police] asked me where the guns were and who was going to come to Swaziland to overthrow the king. They did that over and over again till I collapsed. They told me that they will kill me for causing trouble in the country and organizing the April 12 uprising,” Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini tells Africa Contact in a statement about his arrest, remand and court case.
Maxwell was arrested, tortured and charged with possession of explosives in connection with the Arab Spring-inspired “April 12 uprising” in Swaziland in 2011. There has been a campaign for his full and unconditional release ever since, organised by the British National Union of Students, British NGO ACTSA and Danish NGO Africa Contact, who together with the Swazi democratic movement have insisted that Maxwell was innocent.
Having been released on the largest bail in Swazi history four weeks ago, Maxwell can now finally tell the story of his horrendous ordeal in his own words.
”My first arrest was on the 10th of April 2011,” Maxwell tells Africa Contact. “I was returning from South Africa, driving a car when just near the border I met a roadblock. They were conducting a routine search. Then all of a sudden a police officer hit me on the face and I fell down. They drove me to Mbabane regional headquarters where I was shoved into a conference centre full of police officers. They insulted me, undressed me, humiliated and degraded me.”
“Then the head of the team, assistant commissioner Zephaniah Mgabhi, told me to give him the bombs and guns that I was carrying from South Africa. I told them that I was carrying no such thing. I was assaulted and suffocated with a black plastic back till I was very week and I couldn’t breath. After two hours they took me to a police van and drove me to an isolated police station. I was thrown into a cell with no lights or toilet. They gave me neither food nor water.”
“On the 12 of April, I was delivered to another team of Special Forces who took me to my house to search for bombs, explosives and guns. They ransacked the house but did not find anything. The regional commander strictly warned me against joining any protest in the future and told me to resign from SNUS [Swaziland National Union of Students, of which Maxwell is President]. Then I was released and dumped in a far away forest.”
“Thursday the 14th of April 2011, I decided to join the struggling masses of our people who were confronting [absolute monarch king] Mswati’s regime in Manzini. Here twenty police officers arrested me. They drove straight to Matsapha police station. I was taken into an interrogation room. One police officer by the name of Clement Sihlongonyane told me that he would deal with me once and for all. They tied me to a bench facing upward and again they suffocated me with a plastic bag. I was told that I will not finish my degree at the university and that they will kill me or send me to jail.”
“Later, they brought Musa [Ngubeni, Maxwell’s friend, fellow student leader and co-accused] and we were told that we have to sign the confession statement that we were carrying explosives but we refused. The following day they took us to the magistrates court where we were formally charged with allegedly being in possession of explosives.”
The Arab Spring spreads southwards
Maxwell is just one of many Swazi democracy campaigners who have been beaten up, tortured, framed, and detained for months on end, as the Swazi regime has become increasingly desperate in its attempt to cling on to power.
Mario Masuku, the President of PUDEMO, Swaziland’s largest illegal opposition party, was detained for almost a year on charges of treason, before the charges against him were dropped in a matter of hours once the trial had begun. Former Swazi student leader Pius Vilakati has spoken of his torture at the hands of Swazi police, amongst other things how they “covered my face with a plastic bag many times, only giving me a few seconds to breathe between intervals. He has since fled to South Africa in fear of his life. And student and PUDEMO member Sipho Jele was arrested and interrogated for having worn a PUDEMO T-shirt on 1. May 2010. He was found dead in his cell three days later under suspicious circumstances.
But as the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East has shown, increasingly brutal methods by dictatorships only tend to increase the determination of a population that has shed its fear of its brutal methods.
As with the other Arab Spring uprisings, the uprising in Swaziland is driven by a combination of an increasingly vocal opposition to a brutal dictatorship, large youth unemployment and an economic downturn. In Swaziland, the economic mismanagement of King Mswati III’s regime has caused the economy to virtually implode. The state has responded by laying off staff and cancelling pensions, temporarily closing the university and cutting back on important social services, in a country with one of the highest HIV per capita rates in the world.
“King Mswati must lead the process of a genuine dialogue that will lead to the drafting of peoples driven constitution and free and fair elections under a multi party democracy,” Maxwell therefore insists. “He must be aware that the patience of the youth is running out fast. If he won’t lead the process of a general transformation, he may suffer the same fate as Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali.”
A peaceful democratic transition?
But regardless of the regime’s brutal treatment of him, Maxwell still insists that a peaceful and inclusive transition to democracy in Swaziland is the only way forward. “I strongly believe in a peaceful transformation of our country into a democratic state. I frown upon all forms of terrorism, extremism and violence as a tool of expressing ones views and opinions. Our struggle is not of hate and vengeance but it’s a struggle for peace and stability. I strongly believe in genuine dialogue, constructive engagement and peaceful negotiations as a form of solving conflicts and problems.”
As for his own situation, Maxwell hopes that his court case will soon be over and his innocence proven, but he is willing to accept the hardships that come with fighting for democracy and human rights in a brutal dictatorship. “I will continue with the noble and just cause of fighting for democracy, advocating for the respect of human rights, and accessible and affordable relevant education for all,” he says. “I will not let my arrest, detention, torture and intimidation deter me from the noble and just cause of national liberation, self determination and progress for our country.”
Maxwell: ‘Thank you’
“I have no words to describe how grateful I am to them,” Maxwell Dlamini says in a statement to Africa Contact, referring to those who have campaigned for his release, including ACTSA, the British NUS, Africa Contact, and the Free Maxwell Campaign. “They have shown that solidarity goes beyond the issuing of statements and political rhetoric. They have actually offered practical support with us the oppressed people of Swaziland by leading campaigns against Mswati’s regime in their different countries. Our release was not earned through the benevolence of Mswati’s and the collaborationist courts but through your relentless struggle, your undying spirits and great efforts that saw Mswati bowing to the pressure.”
“But ours is not to celebrate at this juncture but to continue to pile the pressure until Mswati agrees to the general transformation of our society. We must not rest until our people who are landless, education less, waterless, foodless and jobless are free from the royal yoke of oppression.”
28. February 2012
By Klaus Stig Kristensen, Africa Contact
”We are still here and not going anywhere, we will fight our case in court and this has only made us stronger” answers Musa Ngubeni when I asked him about his and Maxwell Dlamini’s take on their situation after they were imprisoned, humiliated, tortured by Swazi police and finally released on bail three weeks ago.
Swaziland, the last standing monarchy in Sub-Saharan, has been ruled by King Mswati III since 1986. His reign has displayed an increasing level of ruthlessness during his years as sovereign monarch. The king has prohibited any political party presence and talks of multi-party elections have for many years been kept to a whisper. The government, put in power by the king, denies socio-economic and human rights in the kingdom. The rejections of these rights have enforced poverty upon the people, many of whom are feed up and ready for progression.
Musa Ngubeni ,30, and Maxwell Dlamini, 21, have been close friends and comrades since they met at the University of Swaziland. They are actively participating in the struggle for multi-party elections, socio-economic justice and human rights for all Swazis. They are both leading figures of Swaziland National Union of Students, SNUS, and were arrested on alleged charges of treason, bomb and weapon possession, terrorism – all charges that were meant to stop the two young men from peacefully advocating democratic change in the oppressive regime that is todays Swaziland.
Returning from a student meeting in South Africa on the 10th of April 2011, Maxwell Dlamini was apprehended by police a couple of kilometres after crossing the Swazi border. He was arrested with charges of terrorism. At the police station, the officers pulled a plastic bag tightly over his head. While suffocating him, they shouted that he should stop his campaign and association with the civil rights movements in Swaziland. In need of evidence, a fruitless search of Maxwell’s dorm room was conducted with the help of sniffer dogs sniffing for explosives and police violently looking for weapons. The lack of evidence resulted in a devious scheme carried out by the Swazi Royal police. Police officers brought Maxwell to Musa’s dorm room on the university campus the 13th of April and presented both of them with a cardboard box. They were ordered to open the box, which contained bomb-making materials, and were subsequently arrested and charged with terrorism.
This was the first unpleasant visit for Musa in the interrogation room, while too familiar for Maxwell. Held at gunpoint, Musa and Maxwell were forced to sign statements of confession, but the determination and willpower of the two young men kept them from signing and kept them alive.
Terrorism charges must be accompanied by proof of the target to the alleged terrorist act, according to Swazi law, something the police failed to find any evidence for. The charges were therefore changed and put simply as possession of explosives. No bail and no trial date were set.
Musa emphasizes that “the psychological terror being the most terrifying aspect of prison time”, they were constantly verbally harassed and wardens would, from time to time, “drag you along the floor as a dog,” as both Musa and Maxwell recalls. ”. However they never lost faith in their cause and innocents, even when Maxwell suffered a mild stroke and was not allowed to receive proper medical attention
Special rules were also applied to the two inmates; they had to choose five immediate family members or friends, who would be the only visitors they could see during the prison time and then only for a maximum of three minutes, where custom is fifteen, under the supervision of the superintendent. Conversation subjects during visitations were censored and no books or foreign newspapers were allowed for the two student activists, which meant they received no news from the outside.
The international Free Maxwell Campaign was launched on the 6th of June 2011, and played a part in the international pressure for releasing both Maxwell and Musa. However, it was not until South African authorities started to intensify the pressure on the Swazi government that a trial date was within reach, according to Maxwell.
After having spent nearly ten months in prison, bail was finally set to 100.000 Rand for both political prisoners, the highest bail ever set by Swazi court. Funds were collected from all over the world, which meant that on the 3rd of February 2012 Maxwell Dlamini was release on bail and on the 9th of February Musa Ngubeni smelled fresh air.
Three weeks after his release, Maxwell expressed his gratitude to the international community, who helped to pressure the Government of Swaziland, and the people who helped contribute to his and Musa’s bail. “We are forever in debt to those, who wants political change, and we want them to know that we acknowledge and appreciate their efforts and we pray to god that he will pay them accordingly for we cannot”.
Court days for the hearings of Maxwell and Musa’s case have been scheduled for the 18th of March and the 16th of May. Until then, both the accused have to report to Mbabane Regional Police Station four times a week. However, a round trip of 100km four times a week does not discourage the student leaders. Both jokingly said that “the Swazi judiciary is predictable in its unfairness only.”
They have no faith that the trials won’t be prolonged far beyond the 24th of March, as similar cases against political prisoners, such as PUDEMO leader Mario Masuku, have also lasted for many months, in an apparent attempt by the regime to punish or discourage any acts of defiance against it. Nevertheless both have accepted the dire situation in the name of change and a peaceful democratic transition rooted in the people of Swaziland.
For the fortune of Swaziland, Maxwell clearly states, that a violent transition would be detrimental to everybody in Swaziland and would leave the country in ruins. He acknowledged the international community’s role in the transition through smart sanctions, good governance praxis and solidarity with the people against a king who “clings to power,” as Maxwell puts it.
Nonetheless, the only people who can bring about change are the Swazis themselves. They are and should be the main catalyst for change through the democratic movement and campaigns for democracy. An example of this is the launch of the People’s Budget campaign that promotes a shadow national budget as an alternative to the Minister of Finance Majozi Sithole’s budget, which will only continue the hardships for most Swazis, many of whom have already been laid off by the government, haven’t been paid they salaries or have had their pensions stopped.
Campaigns such as this can be used as a tangible platform for applying further pressure from within Swaziland. And is regarded by Maxwell and Musa, as well as SNUS as a whole, as being an essential piece to the success of the democratic movement.
Reflecting on the future, Maxwell and Musa finds it crucial that the civil society, the church and the royal family, being the three most important political actors in the country, sits down together to bring about a Swaziland where socio-economic and democratic rights are for all Swazis and not just the selected few favoured by the royal family. They hope that such a Swaziland, where these rights are obtainable based on a democratic election, will be realised by 2018, which they see as a realistic timeframe for the achievement of true and inclusive multi-party democracy.
Klaus Stig Kristensen, Manzini- 26/2-2012. Interviews took place the 23rd of February 2012.
8. February 2012
“Musa Ngubeni finally left the Manzini Remand Centre at 10:20 a.m this morning [9. February] and headed for his parental home at Mankhayane,” Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice told the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign.
Musa Ngubeni, a law graduate from the University of Swaziland and former student leader, was detained, allegedly tortured, and charged with being in possession of explosives together with student leader Maxwell Dlamini during the April 12 Swazi Uprising last year – one of the largest protests against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy crushed by police and security forces.
”He is grateful to all those supported them whilst inside prison and the pressure exerted from Europe for their release. He said that there is no doubt that had it been not because of the campaign internationally for their release such an amount wouldn’t have been collected. Musa further requested the democracy loving people of the world to continue fund raising for the case as they are still left with the legal fees for the attorney, which they are to pay.”
Musa Ngubeni assured everyone following his and Maxwell Dlamini’s case that the allegations against them were false. They had never seen nor laid their hands on the blasting materials and detonators that the police claimed to have found in their possession, he insisted. “They saw it for the first time when the police showed it to them and it was never inside any of their belongings or bags,” says Dumezweni Dlamini.
After having been released after having spent nearly ten months in prison, Musa Ngubeni and Maxwell Dlamini now have to adhere to inflexible bail conditions. Amongst other things Musa has to report four times a week to the Mbabane Regional Police Station, which is a 200 km round trip, even though he could easily have reported at the nearest police station in stead, which is within walking distance of his home.
7. February 2012
Maxwell is out, Musa to come
We are grateful that Comrade Maxwell is out. We are heavily indebted to all our friends locally and abroad. You have shown us the true spirit of humanity, sisterhood and brotherhood. Comrade Musa Ngubeni is still in jail and information we have is that his bail money is about to reach the required quota. Comrade Ngubeni is one of the finest comrades and former students leader
Sibusiso Magnificent Nhlabatsi
Students liason intern
The Centre for Human Rights and Development
University of Swaziland SRC President, academic year 2011/12.
6. February 2012
The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) would like to thank all the people who sacrificed their hard earned money and contributed it towards the release-on-bail of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, the two student leaders who were arrested last April under false charges of being in possession of explosives. Maxwell Dlamini is already out of jail, while Musa Ngubeni is due out in the coming few days.
While it is definitely a positive development that they can now attend trials from the comfort of their homes, practically speaking they are still imprisoned as their bail conditions are inhumanely stringent. Moreover, history has shown that the state deliberately allow political cases to drag on for decades in the hope of frustrating activists and denying them the right to pursue their political course.
It is imperative, therefore, that all progressive Swazis put pressure on the king’s government to drop these false charges against all political prisoners completely if the country’s judiciary fails to finalize their cases within the next few months.
Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]
Contact: Lucky Lukhele –spokesperson, 072 502 4141
4. February 2012
Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign press statement on the release on bail of Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini
We are delighted that Maxwell Dlamini has been released by Swaziland’s High Court even though judge Bheki Maphalala had set bail at a colossal 50,000 rand (€5000). We have spoken to Maxwell on the phone yesterday [Friday 3. February], and he says that he is well and in good spirits. We told him that we will not rest until we have ensured his full and unconditional release, as well of the release of his co-accused, Musa Ngubeni. We also demand that the alleged torture of Maxwell and Musa by Swaziland’s police forces and/or armed forces be investigated, and any perpetrators be brought to justice. And we support Swaziland’s democratic movement in their demands for democracy and socio-economic justice for the people in Swaziland, who suffer daily under a repressive, undemocratic and kleptomaniac regime. Ultimately, the only viable solution to cases like Maxwell’s and Musa’s is democracy and socio-economic justice for Swaziland.
3. February 2012
President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, Maxwell Dlamini, has been released on bail today [3. February]. The money for the 50,000 Rand bail (€5000) – the largest bail ever in Swazi legal history –was raised by Maxwell’s father, Nimrod Dlamini, and local and international solidarity movements.
Maxwell Dlamini was detained, allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession, and charged of possession of explosives last April in connection with one of the largest protests against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy in many years, the so-called April 12 Uprising.
Two thirds of Swaziland’s population survive on less than a dollar a day and hundreds of thousands can only get by on food aid from the UN. Additionally, Swaziland cannot afford to pay its bills and the salaries of its civil servants due to widespread financial overspending and mismanagement by Swaziland’s absolute monarch, King Mswati III, and his government.
Swaziland’s democratic movement still urges potential donors to contribute to the bail of Maxwell Dlamini’s co-accused, Musa Ngubeni, as approximately 15,000 Rand (€1500) is needed to bail him out, as well as to reimburse Maxwell’s father.
“Half the battle has been won, its heart warming to get Maxwell out, now we
must work on Ngubeni and the others,” said Wandile Dludlu from the Swaziland United Democratic Front.
25. January 2012
President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), Maxwell Dlamini, has been short-listed for the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. The award is presented by Front Line, an Irish-based human rights organisation founded by former director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International, Mary Lawlor, and is given to “human rights defenders who, through non-violent work, are courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.”
Maxwell Dlamini was detained, tortured and forced to sign a confession by members of Swaziland’s police and security forces during the so-called April 12 Swazi Uprising, a peaceful protest inspired by the Arab Spring that was brutally clamped down upon by Swazi police and security forces. He is currently on trial for allegedly having been in possession of explosives and remanded and the infamous Manzini Remand Centre. Several representatives of Swaziland’s democratic movement have called the allegations against Maxwell Dlamini absurd, and an international campaign has demanded his unconditional release.
Maxwell is a threat to the undemocratic Swazi regime precisely because “he is a strong and a brave young leader who stands up and defends human rights,” says Dumezweni Dlamini from the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, a partner organisation of Maxwell’s SNUS. “This is why he has been put behind bars.”
“But there cannot be a better recipient [of the award] than this rare gem of a new generation of activists for the liberation of Swaziland,” says Wandile Dludlu from the Swaziland United Democratic Front. “Maxwell has been at the service of the youth in an oppressive dangerous political environment and has led the students in several campaigns of peaceful protests against unjust government policy. We are proud to be associated with SNUS, who has been producing leaders of a special pedigree like Maxwell. They have made an indelible mark in the history of our struggle for democracy, human rights and good governance.”
The Front Line Defenders Award is presented annually. The winner and his or her organisation is awarded with a cash prize of €15,000. Last years award, presented by former Irish Prime Minister Mary Robinson, was given to the Joint Mobile Group of the Russian Federation “for their outstanding work investigating torture, killings and disappearances in Chechnya.”
18. January 2012
The trial of Swazi student leader and political prisoner, Maxwell Dlamini, finally started last week after having been postponed and delayed since last April, where Maxwell Dlamini was apprehended by police and allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession to being in possession of explosives.
At the trial, Maxwell Dlamini and his co-accused, Musa Ngubeni, pleaded not guilty to the charges of contravening Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961. Several representatives of Swaziland’s democratic movement have referred to the charges as ludicrous and the long delay of the trial as a deliberate act by Swaziland’s absolute monarchy to discourage any opposition to its undemocratic and brutal rule.
According to Wandile Dludlu of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, an umbrella movement of democratic forces in Swaziland, over 60 activists attended the court session in a show of support for Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni.
“But the state is playing dirty delaying tactics because they don’t have credible witnesses,” said Dludlu, “The only state witness, superintendent Clement Sihlongonyane [who arrested Maxwell and Musa in April 2011], has already told blatant lies during a gruelling cross examination on the first day.”
According to the Times of Swaziland, Sihlongyane had claimed that Dlamini and Ngubeni led them to the explosives hidden in a forest voluntarily and that “bomb experts confirmed that the red, black and grey cables which were hidden in a white shoe box were indeed explosives.”
“Sihlongyane later complained to court of not being well,” Wandile Dludlu said. “But on the second day of the trial, after the magistrate granted him relief to go to hospital, he came outside court to joke with his colleagues when Maxwell’s mother confronted him about the morality of his behaviour. He ran amok with all sorts of insults right in front of everybody.”
The case is set to continue on the15th and 16th of February, the further delay being due to the alleged illness of superintendent Sihlongonyane.
13. January 2012
Maxwell trial started
(from Times of Swaziland)
The first day of trial for the two explosives suspects, Maxwell Thanduk’khanya Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni began yesterday amid much drama.
This was after police and political activists were engaged in a showdown after the latter were ordered out of the courtroom for being inappropriately dressed.
The cross-examination of the detective saw the magistrate warning the explosives suspects’ lawyer not to raise his voice in the courtroom.
This drama began after Mandla Mkhwanazi wanted some specification of the time police officers arrived at the Ngubeni homestead. Clement Sihlongonyane insisted it was around 11pm but Mkhwanazi told him not to mislead the court, he wanted him to tell the court the exact time of arrival at the homestead. Mkhwanazi raised his voice and repeated his question, asking Sihlongonyane to be specific about the time. Senior Magistrate Joe Gumedze intervened and told Mkhwanazi not to raise his voice.
A detective yesterday led evidence to describe how the two explosives’ suspects allegedly led them to the explosives hidden in a forest. Almost a year after the two explosives suspects Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni were arrested, the first day of their trial begun yesterday.
The charge sheet was read for the first time and the Principal Crown from the High Court, Sikhumbuzo Fakudze was brought to prosecute the case. Both pleaded not guilty to the two possessions of explosives charges. The Detective Assistant Superintendent who led the police who arrested the two, Clement Sihlongonyane, was the first witness to lead evidence. He narrated how they arrested Dlamini at the Tiger City Filling Station.
“We introduced ourselves as police officers and cautioned him according to the judge’s rule.
“We then told him about the nature of the investigation and he opted to say something. He then led us to Mbikwakhe at Hezekiel Ngubeni’s homestead, Musa’s parental place, at about 11pm,” Sihlongonyane said.
He said, upon arrival, Ngubeni was not in and the police had to wait for him in his sitting room, together with his younger brother. Sihlongonyane said Ngubeni ended up arriving only at 1:30am and, upon entry to the house, he screamed when he saw the police.
“He was also cautioned according to the judge’s rule; he then led us to a nearby forest in the presence of his counterpart where there were hidden plastics of explosives.
“We did not attempt to tamper with them since we had involved bomb experts from the Royal Swaziland Police when going to the crime scene,” Sihlongonyane said.
Detective Assistant Superintendent Clement Sihlongonyane said the bomb experts confirmed that the red, black and grey cables which were hidden in a white shoe box were indeed explosives. He said when they asked the suspects to produce a permit or licence for the possession of the explosives, they failed to do so.
“They were then formally charged and arrested for being found in possession of the said explosives. The forensics department also sent a report to confirm that the cables were explosives,” he told the court. The explosives suspects lawyer Mandla Mkhwanazi asked Sihlongonyane why they had arrested the two on April 10, 2011.
Sihlongonyane said they were found with weapons, AK-47 rifles, and when he asked if it was specifically the two accused, Sihlongonyane said it was not them but the people who they were with.
The two men are accused of contravening Section 9, as read with Section 8(1)(c), of the Explosives Act 4 of 1961. On April 13, 2011, at or near Mbikwakhe in the Manzini region, the said accused, each or both of them, acting in furtherance of a common purpose, did lawfully and intentionally possess the under listed explosives without a valid licence or permit or alternatively contravened Section 14(1) as read with 2(a) of the Arms and Ammunitions Act 24 of 1964.
The case continues today at 9am when other witnesses will be leading evidence.
21. December 2011
The following bank account has been set up to receive contributions towards the E100,000 bail for Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, the Swaziland Solidarity Network has announced.
Bank: First National Bank [FNB]
NAME: M. Mkhwanazi & Associates
Account number: 62057572507
Branch Code: 280164
SWIFT Code: FIRNSZMX
20. December 2011
After having been denied bail on several occasions previously since they were detained, allegedly tortured, and charged of possession of explosives in April 2011, Swazi student leader, Maxwell Dlamini and activist Musa Ngubeni have finally been granted bail by Swaziland’s High Court judge Bheki Maphalala today (Tuesday).
Unfortunately for the pair, bail was set at 50 000 Rand (around 6 000 US$) per person – by far the highest bail ever in Swaziland, according to a correspondent from global news agency AFP who was present at the hearing. The judge also demanded that they surrender their passports before being granted bail and wants them to report to the Mbabane police station four times a week.
50 000 Rand is a staggering amount in a country where the government of absolute monarch, King Mswati III, cannot afford to pay its bills and the salaries of its civil servants, where two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day, and where hundreds of thousands can only get by on food aid from the UN.
“The financial figure is very unreasonable,” a representative of the Swaziland United Democratic Front told Africa Contact today. ”This is a very unjust verdict for any court to make with regard to just a bail application. We are very angry and disappointed.”
Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice said that Swaziland’s civil society regarded judge Maphalala as a government lackey. ”The precedent set by the same court when it released people accused of high treason by granting them bail was only set at 5 000 Rand,” he said.
Manyovu Mnisi, lawyer for the suspects, said he was shocked at the judgement. “We find the judgment to be shocking and devoid of legal reasoning. It is strange that an offence which carries a fine of 2 000 Rand and a jail term of just two years could attract such an exorbitant bail and stringiest conditions,” Mnisi said.
There have been repeated calls for the release of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, both from the Swazi democratic movement, who have called the charges “a cover up for the heavy-handedness the police” during pro-democracy demonstrations in April, and internationally from the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign and its supporters.
Africa Contact’s Mandela Fund is collecting donations for Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni’s bail. You can donate here: http://www.afrika.dk/st%C3%B8t-mandela-fonden (remember to specify that the donation is for Maxwell and Musa’s bail), or by contacting Africa Contact’s Morten Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign here: https://freemaxwelldlamini.wordpress.com/
SNUS on grant of bail for President Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni
20th December 2011
The Swaziland National Union of Students humbly takes this opportunity to thank all those that have continued to call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including SNUS President Maxwell Dlamini who has been in prison since April 12, 2011, together with another former student leader, Musa Ngubeni.
Through your intensive call for their release, President Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni were granted bail by the High Court on Tuesday, 20 December, 2010, in their bail appeal hearing presided over by Justice Bheki Maphalala. However, the bail money has been set at a staggering R50 000 (Fifty thousand Rands) for each leader, taking the total to an outrageous R100 000 (One hundred thousand Rands) that is needed for their release. We therefore plead with all people of the world who love to see justice being done to assist us with the above mentioned monies. Anyone who is willing to assist can contact the SNUS leadership through the office of the Secretary for International Affairs.
Thanking you in advance as we fight for democracy for Swaziland.
Issued by the Swaziland National Union of Students
SNUS Secretary for International Affairs
+268 7636 2273
12. December 2011
Swaziland Solidarity Network statement -12th December 2011
The case against student leaders Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, took a rather bizzare twist earlier in the week as police reportedly lost the trial docket. Sources working close to the case made the startling revelation yesterday afternoon.
When quizzed on what this means to the case, the uniformed state agents responded by saying they would create another one. Under normal circumstances the disappearance of a case docket results in the case being scraped off the roll.
One is left wondering where the state will get information on the case in the abscense of the original docket. Moreover, what credible information can be contained in a thought up docket?
It is clear that the state has no case against the two student leaders. In the interests of justice and sanity, we demand that they be released with immediate effect.
11. December 2011
Will the trial of Swazi student leader, Maxwell Dlamini, and his co-accused, Musa Ngubeni, finally be heard in court? The trial has been delayed since Dlamini and Ngubeni were detained in April, in connection with the biggest demonstrations for democracy and socio-economic justice in Swaziland in many years – the so-called “April 12 Uprising.”
They were accused of being in possession of explosives, a charge that people within Swaziland’s democratic movement call preposterous, and allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession. According to Vincent Ncongwane, Secretary General of the Swaziland Federation of Labour, the arrests and charges are an attempt to “cover up for the heavy-handedness the police applied against innocent citizens” during the April 12 uprising.
“Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni’s trial is at the Manzini magistrate court right now,” the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) reported on their Facebook site on Wednesday. “It began in the morning, but was adjourned for 1400hrs, Swazi time. It appears that no magistrate wants to entertain the case of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni. It has been reported that Magistrate Florence did not want to entertain it. Reasons for refusal to hear the case have not yet been reported. The case has been postponed to Monday 9am, Manzini Magistrate’s court!”
“The magistrate was supposed to fix Maxwell’s trial date but that did not happen,” Sibusiso Magnificent Nhlabatsi from SNUS tells Africa Contact. “He will appear again on Monday December 12 at the same court for setting of the trial date. On 14 December his lawyer will be appealing his bail refusal at the high Court of Swaziland. We were shocked that he was due to court as we were told that such would be held in chambers. But in the next appearances students will be out in numbers.”
Given the long delay, the refusal to grant bail and the repeated irregularities, it is obvious that King Mswati’s regime are trying to postpone the case for as long as possible, as they did with a similarly political trial against PUDEMO President, Mario Masuku in 2009 – a terrorism trial that, when it finally began after nearly a year, was laughed out of court in less than a day.
“The magistrate’s decision is tainted with irrationality in that it is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at,” Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni’s laywer, Mandla Mkhwanazi, told the Swazi Observer on Friday after the pair were again refused bail and the case was again postponed.
Maxwell Dlamini is getting frustrated, says a source from within the democratic movement who wishes to remain anonymous for reasons of security. “The last time Maxwell was visited he requested that we call upon the setting of his trial dates. He is frustrated at the fact that his languishing in jail and doesn’t even know his trial dates. He also complained that the state doesn’t want him to read any books or newspapers with political stories. He requested that I buy him any books or magazines that are non-political.”
8. December 2011
Maxwell case started?
Messages from the SNUS facebook group – posted yesterday
“Swaziland; Student activists, Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni’s trial is at the Manzini magistrate court right now. It began in the morning, but was adjourned for 1400hrs, Swazi time. It appears that no magistrate wants to entertain the case of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni. It has been reported that Magistrate Florence did not want to entertain it. Reasons for refusal to hear the case have not yet been reported.”
“SNUS President Maxwell and Musa Ngubeni’s case has been postponed to monday 9am, Manzini magistrate’s court! Please be there to support them.”
7. December 2011
Petitioners from around the world call for the release of Maxwell Dlamini
The Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign has started a petition for the release of Swazi student leader and political prisoner, Maxwell Dlamini. Dlamini was detained and charged with possession of explosives before the April 12 Uprising in Swaziland, was allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession, and has been awaiting trial ever since.
People from around the world have been eager to sign the petition – Canada, Western Sahara, Colombia, Chile, France, Sri Lanka, Iceland, USA, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Thailand, Philippines, Denmark, India.
Many of petitioners also voiced their opinions about Maxwell’s case and the state of affairs in Swaziland.
“I am signing because it’s time for Swaziland’s government to end political and human oppression and to give the land the chance of voting free democratic parties,” Udo from Germany wrote.
“He has to be released because he is not a criminal,” Percy from Swaziland insisted. “He is rather fighting for the liberation of other students, workers, peasants and the rest of the Swazi populace. The real culprits who should be arrested are the ones who stole public monies and those who charge that people and ordinary Swazis who are upright like Maxwell are arrested.”
“He is innocent and all reproaches to him are lies. As a democrat and someone who concerned Human Rights I condemn the situation in Swaziland, especially the situation of Maxwell. I demand the immediately release of Maxwell,” writes Malte, from Germany.
“If there is credible evidence against Mr Dlamini charge him and allow him his day in court and allow him the right to defend himself,” wrote Graham from South Africa. “Detention without trial is a human rights abuse. The rule of law needs to be re-instated in Swaziland.”
“As a South African I fully identify with the people of Swaziland in their fight against the tyranny of the dictator king and his oppressive machinery,” Deon from South Africa wrote.
Swaziland is an absolute monarchy where two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day whilst the king and his allies continue to spend lavishly on luxury items, prestige projects and on arms and army training to defend their privileges.
3. December 2011
Sign Free Maxwell petition
28. November 2011
SNUS statement on Maxwell Dlamini’s Birthday
This is a very important day in the lives of the students for, it is the birthday of our commander, comrade Maxwell Dlamini. He has been behind bars for seven months now and we do not take kindly to that as the Swaziland National Union of Students [SNUS]. As such we call for his release.
Today, however, we are celebrating the birthday of this young lion.
His nominations for the World Student Peace Price by Africa Contact and the Honorary Presidency by the British students thereof, perhaps tell everything that needs to be told about the esteem in which we as students hold him.
Maxwell’s activism and leadership in SNUS, his refusal to betray his people, his movements and his principles in the face of state repression, including the seven months incarceration and his determination to always stand up even to the wrath of our people, to affirm everything that is just and humane, communicate precisely the massage, and serve as a concrete proof of the reality that freedom is possible in our lifetime.
For his willingness to make the necessary sacrifices for the Swazi people, for what he has taught us about the need for selfless dedication to the uplifting of the masses and for what his life has reaffirmed, that freedom is imminent, we say happy birthday comrade President Maxwell.
As we say happy birthday we commit ourselves to give meaning to this message of goodwill and hope. We must also answer in a practical way and through everything we do, the critically important question; what will we do to build on the momentum for the struggle?
We commit ourselves always to strive to advance the goals and ideas to which he has dedicated his life-the idea of a democratic and free Swaziland.
Happy birthday nkokheli!
Issued by the Swaziland National Union of Students [SNUS]*
SNUS Vice President
19. November 2011
Free Maxwell campaign kit
ACTSA and NUS have released a campaign kit to help free Maxwell which includes a model motion which you can adapt and submit to your union council or general meeting, a model letter so you can write to the Swazi government and media to let them know about your action. We’ve also included information about Maxwell’s case and about the situation in Swaziland. You can download the campaign kit by clicking here.
17. November 2011
Swazi student leader nominated for student peace prize
From The Guardian
Swaziland’s jailed NUS leader, Maxwell Dlamini, has been nominated for the 2013 Student Peace Prize for his campaign work in the troubled African monarchy.
Dlamini has been held in the notorious Manzini remand centre since April when he was arrested the night before a planned student protest and charged with possession of illegal ammunition. He denies the charges. As NUS president he campaigned against increased tuition fees, and cuts to scholarship programmes. He had lambasted the government for its failure to introduce the free primary school education it promised.
His supporters claim that evidence was planted and his confession was forced. Dlamini’s bail hearing was cancelled several times between April and June. In July the country’s lawyers went on a four month strike after a judge was charged with insulting the king.
The UK NUS is amongst those campaigning for Dlamini’s release. Dannie Grufferty, vice president of the UK NUS told Cribsheet:
“This nomination is a welcome recognition of Maxwell’s fearless work in Swaziland, where students and trade unionists are systematically oppressed and reproached for their beliefs and affiliations. Maxwell has been threatened, beaten, tortured and is now imprisoned as a result of his brave struggle to defend democracy and human rights. I have seen the work he has done first hand and it truly is an inspiration.”
She went on to say:
“Nominations and awards are important, but they must not be allowed to obscure the urgent need for action by the British Government, the Commonwealth and the European Commission to publicly condemn the lack of democracy in Swaziland, and commit to not hosting royal visits until basic democratic measures are implemented. We owe it to Maxwell not only to recognise his past work but also to support his struggle to defend human rights in Swaziland.”
The Student Peace Prize is awarded on behalf of students in Norway. Previous winners have come from Burma, East Timor, Zimbabwe, Colombia and Western Sahara. Winners are celebrated with a Walk of Peace during the International Student Festival in Trondheim.
14. November 2011
Maxwell Dlamini nominated for student peace prize
Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), has been nominated for the 2013 Student Peace Prize, an award given every other year on behalf of Norwegian students to fellow students around the world who have “done important work to promote peace, democracy or human rights.”
The Student Peace Prize attempts to shed light on and increase recognition of the work of the students who are given the award. “Where other peace prizes that go to established personalities light up a lit room,” the website of the Student Peace Prize states, “the Student Peace Prize puts a spotlight on young persons that still work in the dark.”
Maxwell Dlamini has been nominated by Danish solidarity organisation Africa Contact, his nomination being further endorsed by the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), the All Africa Students Union (AASU), the student representative body at the University of Marburg and the Free Education Movement Marburg.
The reason given for Maxwell’s nomination, according to the letter Africa Contact sent to the Student Peace Prize Secretariat in Norway, was that he had “done important work to promote peace, democracy or human rights,” because his “struggle for free education, recognition of students’ rights, democracy and human rights in Swaziland does not receive the attention and recognition that it ought to,” and “because he has selflessly put aside any fear for his own safety in his and his fellow students’ struggle.”
The letter pointed specifically to the impact of Maxwell Dlamini and SNUS on the February 2010 student boycott and demonstrations in demand of free education in Swaziland, and on the April 12 Uprising in 2011 – one of the largest ever protests for democracy and socio-economic justice in Swaziland’s history. Swaziland is a corrupt and undemocratic absolute monarchy on the verge of economical collapse.
Additionally, the nomination recognised Maxwell’s bravery in the face of the Swazi regime’s brutal clamp down on all opposition to its rule. “Maxwell has been detained, threatened, beaten and tortured on several occasions by members of Swaziland’s police and security forces,” the letter said.
“He is presently languishing in prison, after having been detained, tortured, and forced to sign a confession to being in possession of explosives prior to the so-called April 12 Swazi Uprising.” Several prominent members of Swaziland’s democratic movement have referred to these allegations as “ridiculous”.
The winner of the 2013 Student Peace Prize will be announced in the autumn of 2013, the selection being administered by a committee of Norwegian students’ representatives and a group of experts, including two members of the Norwegian parliament, a journalist employed at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, and a former chairwoman of the Norwegian national film institute. The prize has previously been awarded to students and student organizations from Burma, East Timor, Zimbabwe, Colombia and Western Sahara.
6. November 2011
“It is very unfortunate that a brave young comrade like Maxwell Dlamini [President of the Swaziland National Union of Students] can be made to stay in prison while we need him outside to pursue the struggle of the Swazi people,” Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, President of the Students Representative Council at the University of Swaziland, tells Africa Contact. “But we remain motivated by his words: do not mourn and whine over me just pursue the course of democracy in Swaziland.”
Maxwell Dlamini was detained, and allegedly tortured, prior to the so-called April 12-Uprising in Swaziland earlier in the year. He was forced to sign a statement admitting possession of explosives and has been denied bail on several occasions. He subsequently stands accused of contravening Sections 8 and 9 of Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961 – an accusation that several members of Swaziland’s democratic movement, as well as unions and solidarity organisations around the world, have described as preposterous.
Despite reports of Maxwell falling ill and hired South African police illegally interrogating him and his fellow accused, Musa Ngubeni, Maxwell is doing fine. “Maxwell in prison is fine,” Nhlabatsi says. “Those who check him from time to time say that his spirit is strong and he remains committed to his course.”
Talking about the prospects of Maxwell’s case being heard in a court of law, Nhlabatsi is less optimistic – both because of the well-known stalling tactics of the Swazi regime towards imprisoned democracy advocates, and because of an ongoing lawyer boycott against the lack of judicial independence and rule of law in the country.
“About his case it’s very disturbing. In Swaziland lawyers are currently on boycott and courts are grounded. Actually this situation has been going on for the past three months. So he can’t stand trial because there is no lawyer available.”
15. October 2011
Letter to SA minister: Ensure Maxwell’s release and dismantling of Tinkundla
To: Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeffrey Radebe
The matter to which I wish to inquire into is the illegal interrogation, and according to COSATUs website, the additional torture, of Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini and Swazi activist Musa Ngubeni by two South African police officials on Friday the 30th of September 2011. This interrogation has been confirmed by several sources.
Firstly, I would like your comment on this allegation, and if you can confirm it and/or know about it, your response to what you intend to do about the actions of your officials. Secondly, and more generally, I would like to enquire into what you and the South African government intend to do about the case of Maxwell Dlamini specifically.
Maxwell Dlamini, a young Swazi student leader, was detained, tortured, and forced by the Swazi regime to sign a confession that says he was in possession of explosives by Swazi police during the April 12 Swazi Uprising – five days of protest that were inspired by similar uprisings in North Africa and The Middle East but brutally clamped down upon by Swazi police and security forces. This is by no means the first – nor the last – time Maxwell, and other members of the Swazi democratic movement have received such treatment by officials of the Swazi regime.
Maxwell’s case has still not been heard in a court of law and there are suspicions that the state might be trying to stall his case to punish him, as was seemingly the case with PUDEMO President Mario Masuku, who was held in prison for a year, only for his case to be virtually laughed out of court and dismissed within a day.
I write to you personally, not only because you are the responsible minister in regard to the offending police officers, but also because your involvement as a student activist in the Soweto Uprising and your imprisonment on Robben Island enables you to draw on personal experiences that are not unlike those of Maxwell Dlamini.
Youth leaders such as the young Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Tsietsi Mashinini, and the ringleaders of the Arab Spring have shown that youths have an important role to play in any liberation or democratic movement. This is one of the reasons why the Swazi democratic movement needs brave, dynamic and astute leaders such as Maxwell Dlamini – who incidentally named Steve Biko as a major inspiration when he visited us at Africa Contact in Denmark last November.
The persistence of the ANC, Soweto 1976, a united democratic front of civil society and other organisations, and international pressure led to the forced dismantling of apartheid. We at the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign hope that Swaziland’s influential neighbour, South Africa, will play its part in ensuring that the undemocratic and discriminatory regime that is Swaziland will meet with the same fate.
Peter Kenworthy, Campaign Coordinator of the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign, activist and former employee at Africa Contact (formerly the Danish Anti-Apartheid Movement)
8. October 2011
New Maxwell Facebook site
3. October 2011
Student leaders brutally tortured by SA cops
SSN [Swaziland Solidarity Network] calls for an urgent investigation, by South Africa’s Police Service, of certain individuals who tortured and victimised the awaiting trial student leaders, Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, on Friday evening (30 September 2011).
The SSN has reliably learnt, with shock and disgust, that South African Police coming from the Crime Intelligence Department went to Swaziland and heavily tortured the two student leaders in the absence of their lawyers. This happened inside the Zakhele remand prison in Manzini Swaziland, where the two are presently incarcerated awaiting trial after they were accused of being in possession of explosives […] (Read whole SSN media release here).
2. October 2011
Maxwell Dlamini interrogated by South African police
In a strange twist to the case of student leader Maxwell Dlamini and political activist Musa Ngubeni, both awaiting trial for allegedly being in possession of explosives in connection with the democratic uprising in Swaziland in April, they were interrogated by what appeared to be hired South African police investigators.
The two had previously been detained, interrogated and allegedly tortured by Swazi police to confess to charges that the Swazi democratic movement call ludicrous.
“On Friday at about 4 pm, two white police investigators, said to have been hired by the Swazi state from South Africa, went to the Manzini Remand Centre where Maxwell and Musa are held. These investigators were not accompanied by the two’s lawyers or granted any permission by them to interrogate their clients,” says Dumezweni Dlamini from the Swazi NGO Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice.
According to Dumezweni Dlamini, the interrogators were seemingly attempting to assess their connection with the bombing of a royal palace three years ago, with the South African left who support democratisation in Swaziland and with two of Swaziland’s banned political parties.
“The investigators played video clips from the late Musa Dlamini and Jack Govender who died while they were allegedly attempting to blow up a bridge next to Lozitha Royal Palace,” Dumezweni Dlamini says. “They also forced them to say that they knew the arrested Amos Mbedzi, who was allegedly also part of the Lozitha Bombers. They also questioned them of their knowledge of [South African Trade Federation] COSATU, the South African Communist Party, PUDEMO and SWAYOCO.”
According to Dumezweni Dlamini, the interrogations took about an hour each and ended with the police telling the two prisoners that they would “put them on a leash in protecting the status quo in Swaziland against such terrorism acts.”
Swaziland, an absolute monarchy where political parties are banned and where two thirds of the population survive on under a dollar a day, has good relations with South African President Jacob Zuma, who is married to one of Swaziland’s King Mswati III’s nieces. The ANC also have investments in Swaziland, including an anthracite mine that the ANC’s investment vehicle, Chancellor House Holdings, owns 75% of.
South Africa has recently promised Mswati III a substantial loan of over $300 million to help stave off an economic and political meltdown in virtually bankrupt Swaziland. Swaziland had been refused loans from the IMF and the African Development Bank earlier this year, and there are rumours that South Africa is considering retracting the loan due to the persistent unwillingness of Mswati III to implement democratic reform.
1. October 2011
Swazi student leader tortured, framed
Press release from the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign
Students and other young people are at the forefront of the democratic uprisings of 2011 around the world. They have been the main instigators of demanding democracy in North Africa. This has been covered extensively in the media.
What has been less focused upon is the simultaneous uprising in Swaziland – an absolute monarchy where all political parties are banned, where life expectancy is under 40 years, where youth unemployment is sky-high, and where two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day – many on food aid from the UN.
The unions and the Swazi students’ union, SNUS, have been at the forefront of the Swazi uprising, which is why Swazi police have clamped down on them in particular. Swazi Student leader and SNUS president, Maxwell Dlamini, was pre-emptively detained and allegedly tortured by Swazi police before the Arab Spring-inspired April 12 uprising in Swaziland, where the Swazi regime violently clamped down on demonstrators and detained the entire leadership of the Swazi democratic movement.
Maxwell Dlamini was forced to sign a statement admitting possession of explosives and denied bail on several occasions. Maxwell was also initially denied the right to sit his exams at the university of Swaziland where he is a student, and the Swazi authorities have done their utmost to obstruct their lawyer, Mandla Mkhwanazi.
The charges against Maxwell Dlamini of being in possession of explosives, and thus contravening Sections 8 and 9 of Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961, have been described as preposterous by several members of the democratic movement in Swaziland, as well as by unions and solidarity organisations around the world, and Amnesty International has urged Swaziland to ensure his safety.
Danish solidarity organisation, Africa Contact, therefore started the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign to focus on Maxwell’s case and pressurize the Swazi regime into releasing his.
The Free Maxwell Campaign
In the campaign’s first 24 hours, nearly a hundred e-mails were sent to the Swazi regime demanding the release of Maxwell, over 500 people accessed the campaign’s website, and people from all over the world – including Swazi, Danish, English, South African, Namibian and Basque NGO’s; Danish, German, English, Ukranian and Norweigan students; and people from all over the world have wished to publicly support the campaign.
The press has also covered the campaign, which has been in the news in e.g. England (The Guardian), Denmark (Arbejderen and U-landsnyt), Norway (SAIH), and in The Times of Swaziland, who ran an article about the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign in its Swazi News Saturday edition.
The South African Broadcast Cooperation, SABC, also ran a documentary, Swaziland’s Political Prisoners that amongst other things included interviews in prison with Maxwell Dlamini filmed with a hidden camera.
Keeping spirits high despite delayed trial
Despite languishing in prison for nearly six months, Maxwell Dlamini is keeping up his sprits and is pleased that the Free Maxwell Campaign, the British National Union of Students and others are campaigning for his release. “It was good for Maxwell to see for himself that there is something of this sort going on in Europe,” Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, of which Maxwell’s organisation SNUS is a party, who visited Maxwell recently, told me.
But the Swazi regime has not responded to the campaign, and is instead apparently seeking to bleed Maxwell and his lawyers dry, given the long delay of the court case. The long delay of the case is proving a financial problem for the two accused as well as their legal team, who are working pro bono. And there is also the obvious inconvenience of being imprisoned in a system that often tortures and manhandles its detainees and political prisoners, as happened to Maxwell Dlamini in order to force him to sign a prepared confession.
“The case is still at stand still with the lawyers still trying to get a trial date,” Dumezweni Dlamini says about Maxwell Dlamini’s case. “The case is taking quite some time for his lawyers such that it limits and also digs many resources from their commercial business. We only rely on the volunteerism of these attorneys.”
Other trials against members of Swaziland’s democratic movement certainly seem to show that the regime speculates in such stalling tactics, the most well-known case being that against illegal opposition party, PUDEMO’s, President Mario Masuku.
Masuku was imprisoned for nearly a year before his case was finally heard in 2009. There was no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the accusations of terrorism against him, even though terrorism is defined very loosely in Swaziland, and the judge released him the same day.
Let us hope, for the sake of Maxwell, as well as for the precedent of the many other young student leaders around the world who have partaken in democratic uprisings, that he will not have to stay imprisoned much longer. And let us all do our utmost to secure his release.
If you wish to help Maxwell, by supporting the campaign by writing to the Swazi regime to demand his release, you can either contact the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign at: email@example.com
Read more or act at: https://freemaxwelldlamini.wordpress.com/
25. September 2011
Danish student magazine: Maxwell has been tortured and framed
The September edition of Roskilde University’s student magazine, HippoCampus (page 18-19), has a story about Maxwell Dlamini entitled “Student leader still imprisoned.”
Hippocampus says that Maxwell Dlamini, whom the magazine interviewed during his visit to Denmark in November 2010, “has probably been tortured,” that the explosives that he is claimed to have been in possession of “were probably planted by the police,” and that Swaziland is notorious for its delaying tactics in trials against political prisoners.
9. September 2011
Jonas Sekyere recalls his meeting with the imprisoned Swazi activist Maxwell Dlamini.
Maxwell Dlamini seemed an unlikely freedom fighter. I met him in 2010 when I was involved with a Danish NGO, Africa Contact. They had invited Maxwell to Denmark to raise awareness about his struggle for democracy as leader of the Swaziland National Union of Students(SNUS) and to convey what life was like in Swaziland.
Read the full article here.
7. September 2011
Free Maxwell Campaign supports Global Week of Action protests in Swaziland
Below is a press release from the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign in support of the ongoing protests against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy:
The Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign commends and supports the thousands of Swazis who have taken to the streets this week during the Global Week of Action to demand Multi-party democracy and socio-economic justice, as well as all of the Swazis who have stayed at home, fearing yet another violent response by the regime’s police forces.
And we reiterate our demand for the unconditional release of Maxwell Dlamini and all other political prisoners in Swaziland, as the protesters have done in numerous speeches during the past two days.
“The Free Maxwell campaign is flagged almost by every speaker,” says Dumezweni Dlamini of the Swazi NGO, Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice.
Between one and two thousand people took to the streets yesterday, and between five hundred and a thousand on Monday, to demand democratisation and social reform in Africa’s last absolute monarchy, Swaziland, and the release of all political prisoners.
Swaziland’s consul in Denmark quits over Swazi government corruption
According to Africa Contact’s Morten Nielsen, Swaziland’s consul in Denmark, Flemming Jørgensen, has quit his position. According to Nielsen, because of the rampant corruption in Swaziland’s government.
Africa Contact, who were due to hold a protest outside the consul’s house in Copenhagan on Friday, had also previously campaigned to pressure the consul to resign his position over Swaziland’s abysmal human rights record and its political prisoners, although it is not known whether this campaign has had any bearing on Flemming Jørgensen’s decision to resign his post.
6. September 2011
Free Maxwell Campaign part of protests in Swaziland
“The Free Maxwell campaign is flagged almost by every speaker,” says Dumezweni Dlamini of the Swazi NGO, Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice.
He is talking about the speeches given at the protests at the Global Week of Action in Swaziland’s two main cities, Mbabane and Manzini, during the past two days.
Between one and two thousand people took to the streets yesterday, and between five hundred and a thousand on Monday, to demand democratisation and social reform in Africa’s last absolute monarchy, Swaziland, and the release of all political prisoners.
5th September: Global Action Day for the Release of Maxwell Dlamini in Berlin
In Berlin 20 students protested in front of the Honorary Consulate of Swaziland for the release of Maxwell Dlamini and all political prisoners. At the same time protesters met in Düsseldorf with the same demands.
Maxwell, president of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), was imprisoned in April because of his political activity. He worked to achieve free education and thus was part of the democracy movement in Swaziland.
The students in Berlin demanded the immediate release of Maxwell and political prisoners who were imprisoned in Swaziland.
Since the Honorary Consule Dr. Volker Stoltz was not present, the international supporters list of the „Free Maxwell“ campaigne could only be deposited in his mailbox. Apart from the demands to free Maxwell the speakers reminded of the oppression of women and neglection of human rights in Swaziland, one of the last absolute monarchies in Africa.
4. September 2011
Message of solidarity from Africa Contact to the Global week of Action activists, Maxwell Dlamini, and all other political prisoners in Swaziland
Africa Contact in Denmark sends its warm greetings of solidarity to the participants of the Global Week of Action.
Swaziland is at a crossroads. The total collapse of the current regime is obvious to all. Swaziland’s economic crisis is the responsibility of the regime itself. Corruption and a life lived in luxury for a small elite will now be paid for by Swaziland’s students, workers, small farmers, HIV-infected people, pensioners and the poor.
It is therefore good to see how broad a section of the population, the struggle for democracy in Swaziland now entails, and how the population at large is increasingly willing to stand up and demand democracy and socio-economic justice.
Here in Denmark, the Global Week of Action will be marked by several activities. At the two main universities in Denmark, the students will assemble to demand that student leader Maxwell Dlamini is released and that a unity government be established to pave the way for democratic elections and a new democratic constitution.
We at Africa Contact, for our part, also demand a free and democratic Swaziland – and we can see that this goal is now within reach. We also demand that an interim government be formed where everyone is represented. This constitution will pave the way for a new democratic constitution, with equal political rights for all, and must therefore be designed to secure the social and economic rights of all Swazi’s, and do away with nepotism and corruption.
Finally, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, and the prosecution of those responsible for abuse and torture of democracy campaigners in Swaziland.
Viva, the struggling people of Swaziland. Viva.
Message of Solidarity from Marburg to the Democracy activists in Swaziland
See the message on YouTube
2. September 2011
Free Maxwell petition in Berlin
“There will be a protest in front of the Generalkonsulat in Berlin,” states The Representative Students’ Body of the Technical University Berlin. “It’s going to be on the 5th of September at 4 p.m., in which we will hear a few speeches, make some noise and hand over the petition.
The adress is: Große Präsidentenstraße 5, 10178 Berlin.”
Free Maxwell petition in Denmark
We encourage every student in Denmark and others who share our demand that Maxwell Dlamini should be set free to sign this petition. The signatures will be given to the Consulate of Swaziland, Copenhagen Denmark. The petition will run until September 5th 11 pm.
Also everyone is welcome to our solidarity event at Aarhus University September 5th, 7 pm (https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=275795255780201&ref=ts)
– Background –
In Denmark students don’t fear police, politicians or others when engaging in student politics. That’s not the case everywhere in the world. One grim example of this is Maxwell Dlamini’s history. Maxwell is a young man living in Swaziland. He was detained on April 12th on false accusations that he was in possession of explosives, yet it is clear that his detention arose from his active involvement in fighting for student rights against a scholarship policy that the Swazi government drafted independently without the input of students whose futures are at stake.
– About the Global Day
of action To Free Maxwell –
We (International Student Movement – Africa) call on all progressive organizations, youths and concerned people around the world to march to Swaziland embassies/consulates on September 5th 2011 in their region to add their voices to demand the immediate release of Maxwell Dlamini and all political prisoners. Read more here:
– Initiators –
The National Union of Students in Denmark (www.dsfnet.dk
The Student Council at Aarhus University (www.sr.au.dk)
1. September 2011
ACTSA will petition Swazi High Commission on London for release of Maxwell and Musa
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) will be marking the Swaziland International Day of Action with a vigil outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London, on 6 September 2011 (12.30 – 13.30), calling for democracy and rights for Swaziland. It will be presenting cards calling for the release from prison of Maxwell Dlamini, of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) and Musa Ngebuni of the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco).
31. August 2011
Global Day of Action to Free Maxwell and All Political Prisoners, Sept. 5th 2011
Various groups in Germany (and probably elsewhere as well) want to send out press releases on September 5th to support the “Global Day of Action to Free Maxwell Dlamini and All Political Prisoners”.
They also want to include the different actions worldwide as part of the global day of action inside the press releases.
Announce your actions inside the forum by leaving a comment or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible!
So far the following actions linked to the day of action were announced:
- Solidarity Action at Aarhus University in Denmark: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=275795255780201
- Massive marches in Swaziland itself (called by the Swaziland United Democratic Front[SUDF]): https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=248072038566637 + National Congress for Democratic Change (NACODC) Youth Assembly will march in Mbabane, Manzini and Siteki. encourages activist to wear Red or a Red ribbon
- Massive march in South Africa (called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU])
-> the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) mobilises for rallies in front of the Swazi embassy and consulate in Pretoria and Johannesburg (both in South Africa)
- Solidarity actions at the consulates of Swaziland in Düsseldorf und Berlin (both in Germany) – a solidarity statement supported by groups across Germany will be delivered
-> activists are also working to launch a global petition in solidarity with the democracy movement in Swaziland on Sept.5th
-> in Marburg activists will also drop a banner and consider to record a video message (probably ahead of Sept. 5th)
- STUDIM KRITIKE VEPRIM – STUDY CRITICS ACTION is going to publish a press release in solidarity. It is a group at the University of Prishtina – the only public university in Kosovo with over 50,000 students
26. August 2011
International representatives denied access to Maxwell Dlamini and other Swazi political prisoners
Press Release 26 August : Issued by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign
International Representatives Denied Visits to Swazi Detainess, Treated Like Criminals and Spied Upon! Students Attacked Again!
Yesterday, a 21 strong representative group drawn from the Development Community, Human and Civil Rights Organisations, and Peace and Democracy Campaigners were denied the right to visit political detainees and prisoners being held by the Swazi regime.
The regional delegation comprising representatives from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique and from respected organisations such as the ACTIONS Support Centre, PROPAZ, Forum Mulher, SCCCO, Soweto Concerned Residence, Swaziland Democracy Campaign, Swaziland United Democratic Front, YIDEZ, and the Zimbabwe Peace Project numbers 21 representatives.
They had intended to visit Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni in Manzini Remand Centre, both of whom are student leaders who are being illegally held by the Swazi regime for participating in peaceful protests for a democratic Swaziland earlier this year. They were also denied access to Amos Mbedzi, Bheki Dlamini and Zonke Dlamini who are imprisoned in the Sidwashini Maximum Prison after being convicted on very dubious grounds using draconian legislation that has been universally condemned.
The Visiting Delegation wanted to talk to those being held to make an assessment of the conditions they are enduring, and also to reassure them that they were not forgotten and that the campaign for their release is gathering momentum.
Authorities Renege on Agreement
Despite having secured prior permission, and made their intentions completely clear, the authorities reneged on the agreement to allow the visit and instead subjected the visiting group to delay, illegal surveilance and unreasonable treatment.
Despite the presence of legal representatives of those detained, the authorities refused to provide reasons for denying access, however it was possible, despite the obstructive behaviour of the authorities to gather important information.
While the Government denies that those being held are political prisoners, it does not afford them the same rights, access to visitors and other facilities as it does for ordinary prisoners. For example, they have restricted the number of people allowed on to their registered visitors list from seven to five. Each registered visitor is allowed to have only 3 minutes for conversation which is closely monitorred by a police officer. This means that the prisoners have very little time for outside contact compared to ordinary prisoners who are also not monitorred. Visits to the prison shop are also denied them, and more worrying, they are kept in isolation and not allowed to communicate with one another.
This treatment is not only inhuman and against acceptable prison norms, it is cruel and completely unecessary. It is clear that the intention is to break the spirit of those imprisoned. If these comrades are not political prisoners, why are they not given the same treatment as other prisoners?
An indication of the inhumanity the political prisoners have to experience is illustrated by the treatment received by Musa Ngubeni who is suffering from very high blood pressure. Instead of being given access to a doctor, a prison nurse instead administers panado.
13. August 2011
Global Day of Action to Free Maxwell and All Political Prisoners, September 5th 2011.
This call was initiated by activists on the International Student Movement – Africa (ISM-Africa) platform.
We call upon all students, student bodies, human rights groups and all concerned organisations and individuals to lobby for the urgent and unconditional release of Maxwell Dlamini (President of the Swaziland National Union of Students) and all political prisoners.
This Global Day of Action calls for the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Swaziland and around the world, as well as for concerted action to prevent more activists being detained as the struggle for democracy and freedom continues.
The government denies that it has political prisoners. It also denies that there are political exiles living abroad. It lies continuously and blantantly in an effort to appear reasonable and fair. At the same time the government presides while constantly oppressing the Swazi people through enforced poverty and degradation as well as the denial of democratic, social and economic rights. Those who campaign against this vile injustice are persecuted by the state.
We call on all progressive organisations, youths and concerned people around the world to march to Swaziland embassies/consulates on September 5th 2011 in their region to add their voices to demand the immediate release of Maxwell Dlamini and all political prisoners. Of course alternative forms of action are also welcome, if you have no embassy/consulate of Swaziland near you.
This must be a first step towards unbanning progressive political movements in Swaziland and around the world. This Global Day of Action also pushes for the protected right of the people to free assembly and guarantee a safe return for exiles.
Turning Global Solidarity into Reality!
Please use email@example.com to announce your actions in advance and send in your reports with pictures/videos afterwards. This is important, so that your activities can also be included in press releases and people worldwide will get to hear about them.
Hashtag on twitter: #freeMaxwell
Read the whole statement here.
9. August 2011
Maxwell’s case “stalled”, lawyers “move for release”
“Maxwell’s case has stalled,” says Sikelela Dlamini from the Swaziland United Democratic Front, who has visited Maxwell Dlamini several times in prison, but who is now barred from doing so because of visitation restrictions imposed following the secret filming of Maxwell and Musa inside the jail. “We still await the state’s next move. The last I heard was that given ongoing boycott by lawyers, the defence was poised to move for release since bail was denied and there’s been no progress since.”
Global Day of Action to Free Maxwell and all political prisoners?
Activists on the International Student Movement (Africa) platform are currently discussing the idea of call ing for a Global Day of Action to Free Maxwell and All Political Prisoners for Septermber 5th!
More details to be announced.
8. August 2011
The Break Chains – Campaign for the Release of All Political Prisoners and Detainees in Swaziland
In a statement yesterday, the Communist Party of Swaziland calls for the release of all political prisoners Swaziland, amongst them Maxwell Dlamini.
“The Tinkhundla regime of king Mswati III currently holds five political prisoners/detainees. These courageous freedom fighters are imprisoned by the regime simply because they have been part of the struggle for democracy, human rights and social and economic progress for the people of Swaziland. We demand their unconditional release and that this is a step toward the unbanning of all political parties and organisations and safe return of all exiles.
We urge you to:
- Send demands to the Swazi government and the king calling for the immediate release of Amos Mbedze, Bheki Dlamini, Zonke Dlamini, Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni;
- Raise awareness on the issue of Swaziland’s political prisoners by spreading news of the campaign for their release;
- Raise the issue in your community, trade union branch, Church group, and among your neighbours and friends.
If you are outside Swaziland:
- Issue calls to Swazi diplomatic missions for the release of political prisoners;
- Demand the boycott of Swaziland by the government of the country in which you reside until all political prisoners are released;
- Get your organisation / political party to join the campaign”
For more information contact:
Deputy Chairperson & Head of Campaigns CPS
Mobile: 079 472 4508
Danish newspaper: Maxwell Dlamini risks being tortured in Swazi prison
Danish newspaper, Arbejderen (The Worker), today ran an article that stated that Maxwell Dlamini “risked being beaten and tortured during his long imprisonment … Torture is more or less common in Swazi prisons and police stations,” the paper continued, “not least against political prisoners.”
4. August 2011
Will Maxwell be able to continue his studies?
“It remains uncertain whether the Swaziland National Unions of Students (SNUS) President Maxwell Dlamini will be able to continue with his studies at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) this academic year,” according to The Swazi Observer today. “He wrote his examinations while he was in custody, but managed to pass … He is supposed to transfer into the fourth year of his Bachelor of Commerce … Third year commerce students are supposed to re-new their scholarship agreements with government. However, Dlamini could not do this due to the situation he is in.”
28. July 2011
Country Analysis: Swaziland, July 2011 (page 9-12), Peace and Security Council, Institute for Security Studies – Swaziland
“Two prominent youth leaders, charged with possession of explosives, remain in police custody and reports of arbitrary police raids, extra-judicial killings, presumably under orders of the King who serves as their commander-in-chief, are on the increase. The detention of protestors, in particular the President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, Maxwell Dlamini, has been utilized as an international campaign tool for highlighting the markings of an autocratic state. The pro-democracy movement’s main base of solidarity, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), which also staged a parallel protest at the Swaziland-South Africa border post, has recently committed itself to ‘bringing the pro-democracy campaign to a climax [in 2011]’. To this end, COSATU has threatened to lead a border blockade between Swaziland and South Africa in coming months; mobilise its international allies around the call for a comprehensive boycott of Swazi goods; and put the ‘Swazi matter’ on relevant global multilateral agendas, to enforce action.”
27. July 2011
Swazi regime stalls student leader’s court case
By Peter Kenworthy, from Stiff Kitten’s blog
Is the Swazi government, ruled by absolute monarch Mswati III, trying to bleed student leader Maxwell Dlamini and his lawyers dry financially in the court case against him? Given the long delay of the court case, where he and fellow accused Musa Ngubeni are accused of being in possession of explosives during the North African-inspired Swazi uprising in April, this seems to be the case.
No matter what the reasons for the delay in Maxwell’s and Musa’s case, it is proving a financial problem for the two accused as well as their legal team, however, who are working pro bono. And there is also the obvious inconvenience of being imprisoned in a system that often tortures and manhandles its detainees and political prisoners, as happened to Maxwell Dlamini before the present court in order to force him to sign a prepared confession.
“The case is still at stand still with the lawyers still trying to get a trial date,” Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, of which Maxwell’s organisation SNUS is a party, says about Maxwell Dlamini’s case. “The case is taking quite some time for his lawyers such that it limits and also digs many resources from their commercial business. We only rely on the volunteerism of these attorneys.”
Other trials against members of Swaziland’s democratic movement certainly seem to show that the regime speculates in such stalling tactics, the most well-known case being that against illegal opposition party, PUDEMO’s, President Mario Masuku.
Masuku was imprisoned for nearly a year before his case was finally heard in 2009. There was no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the accusations of terrorism against him, even though terrorism is defined very loosely in Swaziland, and the judge released him the same day.
26. July 2011
“The case is still at stand still with the lawyers still trying to get a trial date,” Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, of which SNUS is a party, says about Maxwell Dlamini’s case. “The case is taking quite some time for his lawyers such that it limits and also digs many resources from their commercial business. We only rely on the volunteerism of this attorneys.”
‘Maxwell is fine now’ says democratic movement
“Maxwell is okay now. There was a article which was released by The Times [of Swaziland] which was speaking about that issue. The government quickly availed a doctor and Max was treated. He is fine now and he has also received good news that he has also pass his exams by a credit even though he wrote it under incaration. SNUS today is ending a two day students summit where a message from Maxwell,” said a representative of the Swazi democratic movement.
Zimbabwean youth support Free Maxwell campaign
The Youth Assembly of the Zimbabwean organizations National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) demands that the imprisoned youth activist from Swaziland, Maxwell Dlamini, be released from prison now.
In a declaration published on the 14th of July they state that,
“We take this opportunity to demand the immediate release of jailed student leader Maxwell Dlamini, who was arrested by the dictatorial monarchy of King Mswati on the 12th of April this year. We hereby denounce the iron-rule style of Mswati and call upon the people of Swaziland to remain resolute and united and fight until Mswati is toppled.”
8. July 2011
Swazi political prisoner Maxwell Dlamini suffers stroke, denied treatment
By Peter Kenworthy
Student leader and Swazi political prisoner Maxwell Dlamini has suffered what his family described as a possible mild stroke yesterday but was apparently denied proper treatment.
“Maxwell asked for permission to seek medical assistance for the condition he is in now. He said he felt pain in his left shoulder, after which he could not use the lower part of his left arm. He wants to get medical help outside prison because he does not believe he will receive proper medical attention there. We want to take him to a private doctor to ensure that our son gets satisfactory medical attention. We will speak to our lawyer to see how we can do that,” Maxwell’s father, Nimrod Dlamini, told The Times of Swaziland after having visited his son yesterday.
According to a source from Swaziland’s democratic movement, Maxwell had informed the prison authorities about his illness, but was denied treatment. A representative from the Zakhele Remand Centre, where Maxwell is held, stated that Maxwell would be offered treatment, however, although he claimed to have been unaware of Maxwell’s illness.
The democratic movement have insisted that Maxwell Dlamini’s trial date should be set without further delay as they suspected that Maxwell’s illness was due to stress caused by the uncertainty surrounding his case and his treatment by Swazi police and prison authorities.
Maxwell Dlamini was pre-emptively detained and allegedly tortured by Swazi police before the April 12 uprising in Swaziland, where the Swazi regime violently clamped down on demonstrators and detained the entire leadership of the Swazi democratic movement.
Maxwell Dlamini has, together with his fellow accused Musa Ngubeni, been forced to sign a statement admitting possession of explosives and denied bail on several occasions. Maxwell has also been denied the right to sit his exams at the university of Swaziland where he is a student, and the Swazi authorities have done their utmost to obstruct their lawyer, Mandla Mkhwanazi.
The charges against Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Mgubeni of being in possession of explosives, and thus contravening Sections 8 and 9 of Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961, have been described as preposterous by several members of the democratic movement in Swaziland, as well as by unions and solidarity organisations around the world, and Amnesty International has urged Swaziland to ensure their safety.
7. July 2011
Ukranian students support the Free Maxwell Campaign in demanding his release. Read the full statement here.
1. July 2011
Swaziland Solidarity Network supports the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign:
Dear comrades and friends,
The Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN] a solidarity movement based in South Africa is fully behind the Free Maxwell campaign and all political prisoners namely: Bheki Dlamini, Zonke Dlamini, Musa Ngubeni and one of our own Amos Mbedzi a member of the SSN. SACP, ANC and former MK.
Lucky Lukhele, SSN Spokesperson
23. June 2011
Focus on the explosives case
By Dr Sikelela Dlamini(SUDF Coordinator)
Maxwell Dlamini was first arrested on Sunday 10th April 2011 at a police roadblock at Sidvwashini (Mbabane) along-side Sifiso Mabuza of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), Samkeliso Ginindza, Deputy Secretary General of the Swaziland National Union of Students(SNUS) of which Maxwell is the President, & Themba Mabuza of the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF). The four political activists were driving in the same car, returning from a weekend workshop in the Mpumalanga town of Wit-bank, South Africa. They were charged under the internationally-condemned Suppression of Terrorism Act (2008). These charges were however subsequently dropped without much explanation […]
Read the whole article here:
18. June 2011
All-Africa Students Union supports Free Maxwell Campaign:
We strongly condemn the authoritarian regime in Swaziland as we join the
campaign in the Name ALL AFRICA STUDENTS UNION, AASU.
We will also be sending our strong message to the Government of Swaziland
to effect the immediate release of Maxwell Dlamini.
Secretary General, AASU.
15. June 2011
Below is a text version of the article about the campaign in Swazi News.
‘Free Maxwell Dlamini’ campaign on the Internet
BY BONISILE MAKHUBU, Swazi News, 11. June 2011
MBABANE – An international drive dubbed the ‘Free Maxwell Dlamini’ campaign has been initiated, calling for the immediate release of the two local explosives suspects.
These are Swaziland National Students Union President Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni.
Campaign Coordinator Peter Kenworthy (from Denmark) said this campaign seeks to help secure the release of political prisoner and Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini.
Kenworthy is from Africa Contact, an organisation that works with the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice and the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF).
Dlamini was arrested for allegedly being found with explosives together with Musa Ngubeni this year, just after the April 12 protest march.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, Kenworthy said, “We have had a great response to the Free Maxwell Dlamini campaign in its first couple of days. Nearly 100 e-mails, demanding the release of Maxwell, have been sent to the Swazi regime in the first 24 hours. There have been several requests for a word-file version of the campaign that can be printed and sent by mail from the approximately 95 per cent of Swazis who do not have access to the Internet. Over 500 people accessed our website in the first day. And people from all over the world have wished to publicly support the campaign.”
He said the message that they sent out on June 6, urging people and organisations to participate in and support the campaign to free Dlamini, has also been distributed high and wide all over the Internet.
Among the demands is the following, “We, the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign, together with the people and organisations that support the campaign – demand that Maxwell Dlamini is released unconditionally and that any and all wrongdoings committed by Swaziland’s police forces and security forces towards Maxwell Dlamini and other members of Swaziland’s democratic movement are investigated, and that any perpetrators are brought before a court of law,” said Kenworthy.
Dlamini and Ngubeni made their first court appearance before Manzini Magistrate Florence Msibi on April 14, 2011. The suspects were denied bail after applying through their attorney, Mandla Mkhwanazi.
According to the charge sheet, the two committed the offence of Contravening Section 9 as read with Section 8 (1) (c) of the Explosives Act 4 of 1961. In that upon the April 13, 2011 and at or near Mbikwakhe are in the Manzini Region the said accused each or both of them acting in furtherance of a common purpose did unlawfully and intentionally possess the under listed explosives without a valid licence or permit or alternatively Contravening Section 14 (1) as read with 2 (a) of the Arms and Ammunitions Act 24 of 1964.
The explosives, according to the charge sheet, include:
- 6 x detoriators (sic) (presumably detonators)
- 2 x blasting cartridges
- 2 x cape fuse cables, red in colour
- 2 x igniting cord, green in colour
MBABANE – Members of the ‘Free Maxwell Dlamini’ campaign intend to write a letter to the Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini.
The letter will be copied to the Office of the King, Cabinet Office, Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lutfo Dlamini and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Campaign Coordinator Peter Kenworthy has posted the letter on the Internet where he invites people to send in their comments and send the letter to the above government offices.
14. June 2011
Sikelela Dlamini, Project Coordinator of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, says that the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign is making an impact in Swaziland, not least in encouraging Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni.
“Your e-mail messages were read at the prayer at the weekend. Max & Musa have been alerted to these and the Internet-based campaign too. I am told they’re greatly encouraged by the messages of solidarity.”
13. June 2011
The Times of Swaziland brought an article about the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign in its Swazi News Saturday edition. “It was good for Maxwell to see for himself that there is something of this sort going on in Europe,” a source from within the democratic movement who has visited Maxwell told me.
12. June 2011
Some of the messages from the Facebook page of the campaign:
”This is just a way to scare students 4rm excising their right to freedom of speech,” “Stay strong Maxwell,” “Solidarity from Barcelona. We send you our energy and strength!!!,” “In solidarity! from Chile!,” “in unison,alutha continua!,” “Thanx 4dis group twl hlp us 2 brng 2geda ideas on hw to free our mates whu we arrested 4 nthng.”
11. June 2011
The campaign is now on Facebook. Thanks to Mo from The Student Representative Body at the University of Marburg (AStA Marburg), Germany.
10. June 2011
The SABC Special Assignment programme, Swaziland’s Political Prisoners, is now on You Tube. Amongst other things, it includes interviews in prison with Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni filmed with a hidden camera.
9. June 2011
The Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign and the trial of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni has been in the news in England (The Guardian), Denmark (Arbejderen and U-landsnyt) and Norway (SAIH) in the past few days.
The statements of solidarity and support from organisations from around the world also keep flowing in.
Solidarity statement from three Basque organisations:
Basque Observaatory of Human Rights – Behatokia
Group Against Torture of the Basque Country – TAT
Association of Relatives of Basque Political Prisoners – Etxerat
Stop torture Release Dlamini
Maxwell Dlamini, the President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, was pre-emptively detained and allegedly tortured by Swazi police before the April 12 uprising in Swaziland, where the Swazi regime violently clamped down on demonstrators and detained the entire leadership of the Swazi democratic movement.
There have been many reports of torture and mistreatment by Swazi police and security forces, as well as by Swazi prison officers.
Swaziland’s Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini, has even warned that sipakatane – a form of torture where people’s feet are repeatedly beaten with spikes – could be used against protesters.
Swaziland was recently reported to the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights – an institution that makes “final and binding decisions on human rights violations” in regard to the African Charter. Swaziland is being urged to “stop police brutality, arbitrary detentions and torture … [and] amend the Suppression of Terrorism Act and repeal the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act.”
Maxwell Dlamini has, together with his fellow accused Musa Ngubeni, been forced to sign a statement admitting possession of explosives and denied bail on several occasions, and the Swazi authorities have done their utmost to obstruct their lawyer, Mandla Mkhwanazi.
The charges against Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Mgubeni of being in possession of explosives, and thus contravening Sections 8 and 9 of Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961, have been described as preposterous by several members of the democratic movement in Swaziland, as well as by unions and solidarity organisations around the world
The explosives that the police claim Maxwell was in possession of were allegedly to have been used during the peaceful mass demonstrations for multi-party democracy and socio-economic justice between April 12 and April 14 that were brutally crushed by Swazi police and security forces. If convicted, Maxwell Dlamini faces up to five years in prison.
We demand that Maxwell Dlamini is released unconditionally and that any and all wrongdoings committed by Swaziland police forces and security forces towards Maxwell Dlamini and other members of Swaziland democratic movement are investigated, and that any perpetrators are brought before a court of law.
Basque Country, 7th June 2011
8. June 2011
A press release in English and Danish was sent out to the media today:
PRESS RELEASE: Launch of the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign
We have had a great response to the Free Maxwell Dlamini campaign – a campaign that seeks to help secure the release of political prisoner and Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini – in its first couple of days.
Nearly a hundred e-mails, demanding the release of Maxwell, have been sent to the Swazi regime in the first 24 hours. There have been several requests for a word-file version of the campaign that can be printed and sent by mail from the approx. 95% of Swazis who do not have access to the Internet. Over 500 people accessed our website in the first day. And people from all over the world – including Basque lawyers, Norweigan youths, Namibian and Danish NGO’s, and South African University employees – have wished to publicly support the campaign.
The message that we sent out on June 6, urging people and organisations to participate in and support the campaign to free Maxwell, has also been distributed high and wide all over the Internet.
President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, Maxwell Dlamini, has been detained, tortured, and forced by Swaziland’s regime to sign a confession that says he was in possession of explosives during the April 12 Swazi Uprising – a movement inspired by similar uprisings in North Africa and The Middle East.
Maxwell has also been denied the right to sit his exams at the university of Swaziland where he is a student, and the Swazi authorities have done their utmost to obstruct their lawyer, Mandla Mkhwanazi.
We – The Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign, together with the people and organisations that support the campaign – demand that Maxwell Dlamini is released unconditionally and that any and all wrongdoings committed by Swaziland’s police forces and security forces towards Maxwell Dlamini and other members of Swaziland’s democratic movement are investigated, and that any perpetrators are brought before a court of law.
The charges against Maxwell
The charges against Maxwell Dlamini of being in possession of explosives, and thus contravening Sections 8 and 9 of Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961, have been described as preposterous by several members of the democratic movement in Swaziland, as well as by unions and solidarity organisations around the world, and Amnesty International has urged Swaziland to ensure his, and fellow accused Musa Ngubeni’s, safety.
The explosives that the police claim Maxwell was in possession of were allegedly to have been used during the peaceful mass demonstrations for multi-party democracy and socio-economic justice between April 12 and April 14 that were brutally crushed by Swazi police and security forces. If convicted, Maxwell Dlamini faces up to five years in prison.
Maxwell Dlamini appeared in court in Manzini, Swaziland, on April 15
According to Vincent Ncongwane, Secretary General of the Swaziland Federation of Labour, the charges are an attempt to “cover up for the heavy-handedness the police applied against innocent citizens” during the April uprising.
Other similar politically motivated cases have also shown that the charges against Maxwell Dlamini are in all probability fabricated. One of the more prominent and well-documented political cases in Swaziland was against PUDEMO President Mario Masuku in 2009. Mario Masuku was imprisoned for 340 days awaiting trial on charges of terrorism, but when he was finally brought before a judge, the case was laughed out of court in a matter of hours. The case was apparently too ridiculous, even for a Swazi court.
7. June 2011
We have had a great response to the campaign in its first 24 hours or so. Nearly a hundred e-mails have been sent to the Swazi regime, there have been several requests for a word-file version of the campaign that can be printed and sent by mail from the approx. 95% of Swazis who do not have access to the internet, over 500 people have accessed our website, and people from all over the world – including Basque lawyers, Norweigan youths, Namibain NGO’s, and South African University employees – have wished to publically support the campaign.
The message that we sent out yesterday, urging people and organisations to participate in and support the campaign to free Maxwell has also been distributed high and wide all over the internet.
Thank you very much, all of you who have so far taken the time to be part of this campaign. The more people, the more pressure on the Swazi regime to release its political prisoners, including Maxwell Dlamini, the better!
The campaign has received several mails, asking why it focuses narrowly on having Maxwell Dlamini released. The reason for this is that we believe that campaigning for the release of Maxwell – and thereby enabling people around the world to identify symbolically with an individual, not a “faceless” number of people – will have a good chance of helping bring about the eventual aim of the release of all political prisoners and the bringing about a “new” and democratic Swaziland, where people are not detained and tortured for advocating democracy. Just look at the Free Mandela campaign in South Africa in the eighties and nineties!
And the fact is that there are already several more broader campaigns that call for, amongst other things, the release of political prisoners in Swaziland – such as the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, ACTSA’s campaign for democracy and human rights in Swaziland and Africa Contact’s Free Swaziland Campaign.
So when Maxwell is hopefully soon released, then we should by no means stop there but continue to demand the release of all political prisoners in Swaziland, that the rule of law is upheld, that human rights are observed, and that true democracy and socio-economic justice is implemented in Swaziland.
6. June 2011
The Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign was lauched today. We hope that we can play a part in securing Maxwell’s release – together with the many people and organisations within and outside Swaziland who are actively calling for the same thing.