Swazi police disrupt funeral of Sipho Jele

The funeral of Sipho Jele, the Pudemo activist who died in custody at the hands of Swazi police, was yesterday (16 May) disrupted by Swazi police. The more than 300 police officers in riot gear that were present at the funeral not only arrested and detained at least three of the over 500 peaceful mourners, but also “forcefully took away everything which bore PUDEMO colours and stripped the cloth which was used as a cover to the casket of the coffin”, according to  sources within the democracy movement in Swaziland that I have been in contact with. The police also smashed pictures of the deceased with the inscription “Rest in Peace Comrade Sipho Jele”, that were hanging in the tent where the service was being held.

Several of the speakers had attacked the Swazi government in their speeches, including representatives of The Swaziland National Union of Students, The Swaziland National Association of Teachers and political party, the NNLC.

Instead of endangering the entire funeral party, Jele’s family decided to stop the funeral service and take the body back to the mortuary, with Pudemo leader Mario Masuku , reduced to tears, remonstrating with police officers. “The environment was not conducive as we cannot burry our dead under the barrel of a gun and police harassment and intimidation”, stated my source in Swaziland, who believed that Jele’s family would now attempt to “seek for an order in court to restrain the cops from this behaviour and allow the dead to be buried peacefully”.

Siphi Jele’s death in police custody has met with outrage throughout the world, an outrage that will not lessen after this latest incident. Scores of articles have dealt with the increasingly desperate behaviour of the Swazi regime in South African, English and Danish newspapers and on online news outlets such as Afrol News, ZIA Network, and IOL News. Many unions, such as the TUC, COSATU and the International Trade Union Federation, and NGOs, such as Amnesty International, ACTSA and Africa Contact, have also condemned the actions of the Swazi regime.


Jele’s family’s strict rules defied, Times of Swaziland, 23 May 2010

PUDEMO: Comrade Sipho Jele finally laid to rest, PUDEMO Blogspot, 22 May 2010

Eyewitness account from the funeral at Swazi Media Commentary

DPP says Jele feared cops would ‘tube’ him, Times of Swaziland, 20 May 2010

Strict rules for Jele’s funeral this weekend, Times of Swaziland, 20 May 2010

Swaziland labour activist’s funeral postponed by police, The Namibian, 19 May 2010

Fears police have student leader, Swazi Media Commentary, 18 May 2010

Family Knows nothing about inquest, Times of Swaziland, 18 May 2010

Why family allowed banned PUDEMO at the funeral, Times of Swaziland, 18 May 2010

Cosatu joins protests on Sipho Jele’s death, Times of Swaziland, 18 May 2010

Mourners in T-shirts run to the bushes, Times of Swaziland, 18 May 2010

Swaziland opposition demands supporter’s death inquiry, Voice of America, 17 May 2010

Activist’s funeral postponed as police ‘supress terrorism’, IPS News, 17 May 2010

COSATU statement on democracy in Swaziland, Polity.org.za, 17 May 2010

Stand off!, Swazi Observer, 17 May 2010

Jele’s funeral stopped, Times of Swaziland, 17 May 2010

Sipho Jele at Wikipedia

Swazi regime under pressure in the case of Sipho Jele, 11 May 2010

Pudemo member murdered by Swazi police, 5 May 2010

One Response to Swazi police disrupt funeral of Sipho Jele

  1. Pingback: Mario Masuku arrested in Swaziland « Stiffkitten's Blog

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