MISA-Swaziland | Alert
July 21 2014
Members of banned political organisations in Swaziland said prison guards didn’t let them take a copy of newsmagazine The Nation into one of the kingdom’s prisons, according to local news reports.
“The incident occurred at the Zakhele Remand Centre on Friday (July 18) morning when certain members of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) visited incarcerated President of PUDEMO Mario Masuku and SWAYOCO Secretary General Maxwell Dlamini,” reported daily newspaper Times of Swaziland.
“The dejected visitors refused to be named as they feared the facility would ban them from visiting the prison in future.
“They alleged that the Correctional officers told them boldly that The Nation Magazine was political and as such was not allowed into the facility. The visitors said they had brought the two men copies of newspapers from both publications in the country as well as the July 2014 copy of The Nation Magazine.”
The Nation magazine has been in the news a lot recently. Editor of the monthly magazine, Bheki Makhubu, and a columnist for the publication, Thulani Maseko, were last week convicted of contempt of court after they wrote opinion pieces criticising the actions of chief justice Michael Ramodibedi.
Makhubu and Maseko have been in jail for over 100 days. They were remanded into custody in March after a closed meeting in the chief justice’s chambers. They remain behind bars while newly-appointed high court judge Mpendulo Simelane — who was also mentioned in the articles in question — considers the sentence for the two men, who Amnesty International have called prisoners of conscience. To read MISA’s statement condemning the jailing and conviction, click here.
President of banned political party PUDEMO, Mario Masuku, and Secretary General of SWAYOCO Maxwell Dlamini have been kept in custody since their arrest after the May Day celebrations earlier in the year after allegedly uttering treasonous statements. They are awaiting trial at Zakhele Remand Centre.
According to research publications by global human rights defender Freedom House, Swaziland is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014 and Freedom of the Press 2014.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Border ranked Swaziland 156th out of 180 countries in its 2014 press freedom index.