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.
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.
Klaus Kristensen from Africa Contact, who visited and interviewed Maxwell and Musa on February 23 2012, insists that Maxwell and Musa were framed by the Swazi police:
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.
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.
Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni first appeared in court in Manzini, Swaziland, on April 15, and have since appeared on several occasions. Maxwell and Musa have since been released on bail due to international pressure from this campaign and others, but Maxwell was arrested again on charges of sedition for allegedly organising a peaceful rally on April 23 2013.
The trial against Mario
Other similar politically motivated cases have also shown that the charges against Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni 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.