Friday, February 27, 2009


Swazi democrat Mario Masuku, in jail awaiting a trial on terrorism and / or sedition charges should be allowed to receive visitors, the Swaziland High Court has ruled.

The Swazi state had refused to allow Masuku, arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act since November 2008, to have visitors because some unspecified people may want to injure and harm him. According to the Swazi Observer yesterday (26 February 2009) the Government lawyers also feared there would be so many visitors that the Matsapha Prison would be unable to cope with the influx.

Masuku, the president of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), will now be allowed to see lawyers, doctor, associates, next of kin, friends, supporters, pastors and others. Previously only next of kin, legal representatives and personal doctors were allowed to see Masuku.

According to a report in the Times of Swaziland yesterday, the High Court said the crown prosecution ‘seemed to forget that Masuku was still considered innocent before the eyes of the law’.

This decision puts the High Court in direct conflict with the Swazi Government led by illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini. Dlamini has a record of ignoring court rulings if he disagrees with them.

The Masuku trial could be seen as a test case for the Swazi Government as he was the first person to be arrested after Dlamini declared PUDEMO and three other political entities ‘terrorist’ organisations. This means members and supporters of the banned organisations could face jail terms of up to 20 years.

The Times reported that during the High Court hearing the judges repeatedly noted the inconsistencies in the way the state wanted the court to interpret the law.

The newspaper noted that Government lawyer Sanele Khuluse spent much of the time answering questions from the judges than he did making his submissions. The High Court ruled that government should pay the costs of the application.

Later, Masuku’s lawyer Thulani Maseko said he was happy with the judgement and hoped that the court order would be respected.

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