Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Another suspected terrorist is being ill treated in a Swazi jail.

This time it’s Amos Mbedzi, who was arrested last September on suspicion of planting a bomb at the Lozitha Highway Bridge.

Mbedzi told the Swaziland High Court that prison authorities have not allowed him to leave his cell where he is kept in solitary confinement. He is also being denied access to the toilet, friends and relatives.

Mbedzi also says he is not allowed to attend magistrates’ court for remand hearings. No date has yet been set for his trial.

He says, ‘I submit that the conditions I am kept under clearly designated to subject me to degrading and inhuman treatment in order to wreck me emotionally, mentally or even result in my death.’

Meanwhile, support for Mario Masuku, the president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) who is also in jail awaiting trial is growing.

The latest support comes from retiring European Ambassador to Swaziland Peter Beck Christiansen

Christiansen told a European Day Celebration, ‘A special greeting goes to my friend Mario Masuku. I’ve known Mario since I came here five years ago. According to the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, this was received with ‘deafening silence’ by the more than 50 people who attended the event.

Christiansen has form when it comes to speaking openly about the lack of democracy in Swaziland. In July 2008 he told the Swazi media the EU would not accept an invitation to monitor that year’s Swazi elections because there were ‘shortcomings’ in the kingdom’s democracy.

In a separate development, Thulani Maseko, Masuku’s lawyer, recently travelled to the United Kingdom on the invitation by the country’s Foreign and Commonwealth Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown to discuss human rights in Swaziland. Maseko is the coordinator of Lawyers for Human Rights.

He said the representatives from the organisations he met were interested in knowing more about the Masuku case. ‘The focus on Swaziland is inevitably mounting, at least according to the people I met. The critical concern is to see Swaziland moving towards democracy using acceptable means,’ he said.

A free Mario Masuku website is now up and running here.

Mario Masuku’s life story is available here.

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