Thursday, January 8, 2009


Mfomfo Nkambule, the Times of Swaziland writer and former Swazi Cabinet Minister, could be charged with sedition and face up to 20 years in jail for articles he has written in the newspaper.

Nkambule, who is also chairman of the Inhlava Forum political party was taken in by the Swazi state police Intelligence Unit and told that his articles could incite a revolt against King Mswati III.

According to a report in the Times today (8 January 2009), Nkambule was told he could be charged with sedition should he continue to write his articles.

The newspaper reported, ‘Section 5 (1) of the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act prescribes that anybody convicted for subversive activities will be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years without the option of a fine.

‘The Act defines subversive activities as actions that support or advocate things that are prejudicial to public order, the country’s security and the administration of justice.

‘The crimes include inciting disobedience among citizens to any lawful authority, indicating association with unlawful groups and comments or criticism intended excite disaffection against public officers.

‘The 1938 law stipulates that once a person has been charged with these crimes, a Special Tribunal of not less than five people will be appointed by the king to deal with his matter. Proceedings of the tribunal shall not be subject to any court and its members shall have the same powers, privileges and immunities of High Court judges.’

The Times quotes Mandla Mkhwanazi of the Lawyers for Human Rights saying that the police are wrong to think they can use outdated laws such as the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act against Nkambule.

‘The constitution guarantees the freedoms of expression and speech. It also allows one the freedom to hold any belief. Any other law that takes away that right should fall off. Unless the police are saying they want to charge him with sedition but even then, personally, I have not seen anything seditious in those statements. The man is just stating facts as he sees them,’ said Mkhwanazi.

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