Court case against Swazi activists is a farce

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.

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