Sunday, October 16, 2011


An open letter to the South African Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeffrey Radebe, from the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign,

To: Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeffrey Radebe

Dear Sir,

The matter to which I wish to inquire into is the illegal interrogation, and according to COSATUs website, the additional torture, of Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini and Swazi activist Musa Ngubeni by two South African police officials on Friday the 30th of September 2011. This interrogation has been confirmed by several sources.

Firstly, I would like your comment on this allegation, and if you can confirm it and/or know about it, your response to what you intend to do about the actions of your officials. Secondly, and more generally, I would like to enquire into what you and the South African government intend to do about the case of Maxwell Dlamini specifically.

Maxwell Dlamini, a young Swazi student leader, was detained, tortured, and forced by the Swazi regime to sign a confession that says he was in possession of explosives by Swazi police during the April 12 Swazi Uprising - five days of protest that were inspired by similar uprisings in North Africa and The Middle East but brutally clamped down upon by Swazi police and security forces. This is by no means the first - nor the last - time Maxwell, and other members of the Swazi democratic movement have received such treatment by officials of the Swazi regime.

Maxwell’s case has still not been heard in a court of law and there are suspicions that the state might be trying to stall his case to punish him, as was seemingly the case with PUDEMO President Mario Masuku, who was held in prison for a year, only for his case to be virtually laughed out of court and dismissed within a day.

I write to you personally, not only because you are the responsible minister in regard to the offending police officers, but also because your involvement as a student activist in the Soweto Uprising and your imprisonment on Robben Island enables you to draw on personal experiences that are not unlike those of Maxwell Dlamini.

Youth leaders such as the young Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Tsietsi Mashinini, and the ringleaders of the Arab Spring have shown that youths have an important role to play in any liberation or democratic movement. This is one of the reasons why the Swazi democratic movement needs brave, dynamic and astute leaders such as Maxwell Dlamini - who incidentally named Steve Biko as a major inspiration when he visited us at Africa Contact in Denmark last November.

The persistence of the ANC, Soweto 1976, a united democratic front of civil society and other organisations, and international pressure led to the forced dismantling of apartheid. We at the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign hope that Swaziland’s influential neighbour, South Africa, will play its part in ensuring that the undemocratic and discriminatory regime that is Swaziland will meet with the same fate.


Peter Kenworthy, Campaign Coordinator of the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign, activist and former employee at Africa Contact (formerly the Danish Anti-Apartheid Movement)

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