Sunday, May 16, 2010


The following is a statement from the Swaziland Solidarity Network about the violence police used violence today (16 May 2010) to stop the funeral of Swazi democracy activist Sipho Jele from taking place.


Swaziland Solidarity Network Statement

16th May, 2010

The Royal Swaziland police force, staying true to the “Khamana Mandate” given to them by the king in 2008 to strangle all political foes made a mockery of everything that is human dignity when they stopped the funeral of the late political activist, Sipho Jele, using extreme violence.

As reported at the close of last week, the chief of Ncabaneni had refused Jele’s family permission to bury his body in the area. In response to that the family had filed an urgent application to the high-court seeking permission to go bury their son. This application was later abandoned after the chief and the police had apparently given the family their word that the funeral would not be stopped. What the family was to soon find out was that beasts, by their very nature, have no honour and their word is of no consequence.

This was evident in the highly disrespectful manner in which the police conducted themselves at the memorial preceding the funeral. This memorial was held in Manzini on Saturday afternoon. About one hundred uniformed police were present at the memorial and the excuse given for their presence was that they were there for security reasons. The real reason why they were there was soon made clear as they began to harass well known members of the country’s various political formations. In particular they threatened to arrest Wandile Dludlu, the president of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO); Patrick Mamba, the organising secretary of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT); and Pius Vilakati, the president of the Swaziland Association of Students(SAS). The three, fearing that their comrades would be attending their own three different funerals next week, had no other option but to hide from the police. They were so desperate to elude the police that they had to endure the journey to Ncabaneni hidden next to Jele’s coffin inside the hearse.

When the coffin got to Ncabaneni everything proceeded quietly as if the state had decided to honour its word. All this happened despite the strong presence of police who by now numbered about five hundred and were all armed to the teeth as if they were prepared for war. Mourners were shocked when at the early hours of Sunday morning, just before the actual burial, police stormed towards the coffin and ripped the PUDEMO flag from it and told everybody in very strong terms that the funeral would not be held in the area as had been earlier ordered. Nobody knows what caused this sudden change of events because if the police had been following this order consistently, the coffin would not have been allowed to even reach the Jele homestead. It was extremely mischievous of the chiefs and the police to lie to the family by making them believe that if they could proceed with the funeral. However, by this time mourners had seen more than their share of police vandalism to even protest. The three activists who had narrowly escaped detention were finally apprehended and taken into custody on the same charges that the late Jele had been arrested for, which is wearing PUDEMO T-shirts. It is not known whether they are still alive or not.

Issued by the SSN South Africa chapter

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