Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, is shall we say, a little ‘economical with the truth’ with its reporting of the killing of democracy activist Sipho Jele.

As I reported earlier today, Amnesty International has issued a public statement that is highly critical of the Swazi Government and its treatment of people who are campaigning for democracy in Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In its statement, Amnesty recalled that Jele had previously been detained and tortured by police. Jele said that while in custody he was beaten around the head causing long-term damage to his hearing, a claim that Amnesty was able to prove with independent medical evidence.

Jele also alleged that he was subjected to suffocation torture while forcibly held down on a bench by six police officers at Sigodvweni police station. Some of his co-defendants at the time (2005) made similar allegations of torture by the police.

Amnesty also criticised the way the Swazi state was using the Suppression of Terrorism Act to silence legitimate political dissent.

In its report of Amnesty’s statement, the Observer gnores all this and manages to make out that Amnesty International has in fact praised the Swazi state. The Observer makes reference to the fact that Amnesty ‘praised’ the Prime Minister for establishing an inquest into Jele’s death.

As for Amnesty’s legitimate concerns about the way King Mswati crushes dissent? Not a word.

The report in the Observer was written by editor-in-chief Musa Ndlangamandla.

As I reported in March 2010, Ndlangamandla is on record saying that the Observer group of newspaper in its reporting would always ensure that King Mswati III ‘ must never be compromised in any way’.

Ndlangamandla is true to his word.

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