Swazi student leader still missing
May 19, 2010 1 Comment
Swazi student leader and democracy activist, Pius Vilakati, who fellow students believe has been abducted by police following police disruption of the funeral of Pudemo member Sipho Jele, is still missing. Vilakati had held a speech at the funeral criticising the Swazi regime, and had to be smuggled out of the funeral in the hearse to avoid being arrested. His disappearance was first noticed when he didn’t turn up for a written exam last Monday (May 17) at the University of Swaziland where he is a student. Vilakati’s girlfriend, who understandibly wishes to remain anonymous, and his friends have not heard from him and are getting increasingly worried. His girlfriend and Vilakati’s roommate at University, SNUS Organising Secretary Maxwell Dlamini, denies the rumours that Vilakati had gone to South Africa as “not true“.
Maxwell Dlamini said that they were planning to deliver a petition over the missing Pius Vilakati to the Human Rights Commission today.
Vilakati has been arrested and tortured by the police on previous occasions, latest in February 2010, where he and several other members of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) were abducted, tortured and held incommunicado by police. He was a key figure in the SNUS campaign to improve the tertiary level of education in Swaziland in 2009 and 2010, and has been suspended from University on several occasions, amongst other things for having allegedly “vandalised” property during demonstrations against celebrations to mark King Mswati’s 40th birthday in 2008.
The increasingly brutal conduct of the Swazi regime is not only to be seen as negative, however, according to Father Pius Magagula, the project manager for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, who said that “it’s very common for a regime to be more militant when it realises that its rule is nearing an end”.
Pius Vilakati is the President of the University of Swaziland Student Representative Council (SRC) and a member of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS).
Send an e-mail to express your concern at the disappearance of Pius Vilakati, as well as over the human rights situation in Swaziland to:
The Prime Minister of Swaziland, Dr Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini at firstname.lastname@example.org
HE Mrs Mary Madzandza Kanya, Swaziland High Commission, United Kingdom at email@example.com
Mr Peter Beck Christiansen, Head of Delegation, The EU delegation in Swaziland at Delegation-Swaziland@ec.europa.eu
UPDATE 11 August 2010:
According to a statement by Swaziland National Union of Students, Pius Vilakati managed to escape to South Africa where he is currently hiding. “We, the Swaziland National Union of Students humbly appeal for scholarship assistant for one of our members, democracy and human rights activists Phiwayinkhosi Pius Vilakati who was forced to abandon his studies at the University of Swaziland where he was doing bachelors degree in law. He was forced to abandon his studies after being sought for statement he made during the memorial service of the late PUDEMO member and unionist Sipho hereafter having held a speech criticizing the Swazi regime. He escaped to South Africa where he is currently hiding.”
Pius Vilakati at Wikipedia
Address by Pius Vilakati 17 January 2010
Studenterleder fra Swaziland Pius Vilakati fortsat meldt savnet, frygtes dræbt af politiet, Africa Contact, 20 May 2010
Swaziland’s tyranny escapes world’s eyes, The Sowetan, 20 May 2010
Students to march to Human Rights body, Times of Swaziland, 20 May 2010
Udviklingen går den gale vej i Swaziland, U-landsnyt.dk, 19 May 2010
Fears police have student leader, Swazi Media Commentary, 18 May 2010
Eyewitness to activist funeral, Swazi Media Commentary, 17 May 2010
PUDEMO man’s coffin used to fool cops, Times of Swaziland, 16 May 2010
SNUS protests, Africa Contact, 15 February 2010
Abduction of students, TUC website, 12 February 2010
News update from Swaziland on the students struggle led by SNUS, SNUS blogspot, 11 february 2010
COSATU condemns kidnapping of Swazi students, SNUS blogspot, 10 February 2010
‘No money, no classes’, Times of Swaziland, 28 January 2010
UNISWA students deliver petition, Swazi Observer, 13 November 2009