Monday, February 20, 2012


The Swazi Observer – the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III – is encouraging a witch hunt against a schoolteacher who allegedly forced a pupil to rip up a photograph of the King.

The schoolteacher – who the Observer names – is accused in its report of committing ‘high treason’.

Last week the Observer reported that a 17-year-old pupil from Siteki was fined E400 after he admitted ripping up a photo of the King at his school. He told the court that a teacher had forced him to do it. In a report last week and again today (20 February 2012), the newspaper names the teacher involved, but on neither occasion has it given him the chance to answer the allegations.

Today, the Observer, for no obvious reason connected to news worthiness, quotes ‘businessman’ Justice Nxumalo calling for serious action to be taken against the teacher.

The Observer said, ‘He [Nxumalo] said the incident was tantamount to high treason and should be probed.’

Nxumalo went on to say the ripping of the photo was unSwazi and unheard of in the local context. He added that to avoid a repeat of the matter, it should not be left to die a natural death without being probed.

The Observer quotes no other person apart from Nxumalo calling for action, thereby making it no more than a piece of editorialising dressed up as a news story. It’s about time the newspaper looked again at the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) code of ethics and read the articles about accuracy, truthfulness and bias.

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