Police across the absolute monarchy of Swaziland (eSwatini) raided the homes of a number of prodemocracy activists in the early hours of Friday (20 December 2019).
Some were detained by police for interrogation.
The action came following increased activity from critics of King Mswati III.
Political action is severely curtailed in the kingdom and political parties are banned from taking part in elections.
Groups advocating for democracy are outlawed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. Many use social media to further their aims.
Laptops, phones and other devices were confiscated by police in the raids.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), based in neighbouring South Africa, reported, ‘eSwatini police visited the houses of a number of pro-democracy activists including Sikelela Dlamini, Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Jan Sithole, President of the Swazi Democratic Party (SWADEPA), Mbongeni Mnisi, SWADEPA youth leader, Sibongile Mazibuko, President of the Ngwane National Liberation Congress (NNLC), Dumsane Fakudze, chairperson of the Communist Party of Swaziland, Wandile Dludlu, Secretary General of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Mphandlana Shongwe, a member of the National Executive Committee of PUDEMO, and Amos Bulunga, PUDEMO Manzini Secretary, and Themba Mabuza from the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and others whose names could not be established at the time of publishing this statement.
‘The search warrants indicated that the police intended to confiscate all laptops, computers, cell phones and tablets in their possession.
‘The police subsequently detained a number of the activists, including Jan Sithole, Sikelela Dlamini, Sibongile Mazibuko, Wandile Dludlu, Amos Bulunga, Dumsane Fakudze, Themba Mabuza and Mbongeni Mnisi. They were released a few hours later after interrogations.
‘Earlier in the week, on 17 December 2019, the police questioned the Chairperson of Sive Siyinqaba National Movement (Sibahle Sinje), Musa Nkambula, at the Manzini police headquarters. He was released pending investigations and his cell phone was confiscated.’
SALC added, ‘We are concerned by the actions of the police, which appear to be targeted at those activists who have been prominently involved in protests relating to workers’ rights and who have been promoting multi-party democracy and government accountability in the country.’
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