The man kept in a Swaziland jail for nine years awaiting trial has been released on bail.
Fana Shongwe who is charged with murder appeared at the Swaziland High Court on Thursday (26 April 2018) where Judge Mbutfo Mamba released him.
Shongwe’s case made international news. He had been arrested and charged in 2009 and was offered bail at E50,000 with E15,000 in cash with the rest as surety. He could not afford to pay.
His trial date has yet to be set.
Judge Mamba said, ‘Mr Shongwe, it is unfortunate that such happened to you, it should not have happened to anyone, it is not the law that failed you, but the people entrusted to execute the law failed you, you are going home today as you will be released,’ according to a report in the Swazi Observer on Friday (27 April 2018).
The newspaper reported, ‘Justice Minister Edgar Hillary expressed annoyance in the manner Shongwe’s matter has been handled. He assured that something was being done to correct the problem.’
At least 133 people in Swaziland have waited more than a year in jail without coming to trial, according to Swaziland’s Human Rights Commission
A report just published by the US State Department into human rights issues in Swaziland for 2017 stated, ‘Lengthy pretrial detention was common. Judicial inefficiency and staff shortages contributed to the problem, as did the police practice of prolonging detention to collect evidence and prevent detainees from influencing witnesses if released. There were instances in which the length of detention equalled or exceeded the sentence for the alleged crime.’
MAN 9 YEARS IN JAIL WITHOUT TRIAL
133 JAILED WITHOUT TRIAL FOR A YEAR