Friday, January 23, 2009


Zodwa Mkhonta , a leading activist of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), has been arrested in Swaziland under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

News emerging this morning (Friday 23 January 2009) is that one of Mkhonta’s sons, Stephen Noge, was arrested by the Mbabane Police at the Mbabane Government Hospital. They accused him of distributing PUDEMO material which is an offence in terms of the terrorism act as PUDEMO is a specially listed entity and therefore illegal.

Early this morning, the police raided Zodwa’s house where they found old PUDEMO material after conducting a search. All the people that were found in the house were subsequently arrested as a result. These include Zodwa’s eldest son Mfundo and five other family members.

According to their lawyer Thulani Maseko, no charges have been preferred yet against Zodwa and the six family members. Police though were still studying the Suppression of Terrorism Act with a view of finding charges that can hold. He further stated that the police are about to conclude charges for Stephen Noge whom they accuse of distributing PUDEMO pamphlets. He is due to appear in court sometime today.

Zodwa is one of the leading women activists in Swaziland who was involved in the founding stages of PUDEMO. She is part of senior management at the Swaziland Electricity Company where she is employed and also sits in the board of the Foundation for Socio- Economic Justice.

Police in Swaziland have clamped down on dissent in the kingdom following the illegal appointment of Barnabas Dlamini as Prime Minister. In November 2008, he declared PUDEMO and three other political entities to be ‘terrorist organizations’ which means that any member or supporter can face up to 25 years in jail. The day after Dlamini’s announcement Mario Masuku, president of PUDEMO was arrested and is presently held in jail awaiting trial.

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