Thursday, April 18, 2013


Centre for Human Rights Statement on the Case of The Nation Magazine and Bheki Makhubu 17 April 2013 in which he was fined E200,000 (US$20,000) to be paid within three days. If he does not pay he will be sent to jail for two years.
On 17 April 2013, at the High Court of Swaziland The Nation Magazine and its editor, Mr. Bheki Makhubu were fined by the said court an amount of E200 000.00 (Approximately $20 000) each wherein half of the amount was suspended for a period of five years provided the two are not found guilty of similar offence in that period. 

This was after the court found them guilty of contempt of court in two articles that appeared on the Nation Magazine in on November 2009 titled; ‘Will the judiciary come to the party”? And another one in February 2010 entitled ‘Speaking my Mind’

The Centre for Human Rights is shocked by the decision of the court. We believe the media is very important for every state and their critical thinking is pivotal for social development in all sectors of life. The judiciary although independent, it is not immune from criticism. Section 24 of our Constitution provides for the freedom of expression. 

This is further echoed by Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights that every individual has a right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law. Further, United Nations International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights provides that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

In the first article; will the judiciary come to the party? Makhubu was questioning the appointment of judges and critically evaluating if they were up for the task. In the second article; speaking my mind, he was criticizing the Chief Justice for calling himself a Makhulu Baas words which Makhubu stated that are from cesspit of apartheid South Africa.

The Centre feels that the judgment is very unfortunate and it can be interpreted to mean that an ordinary man and woman on the street cannot exercise the rights as enshrined in the constitution’s Bill of Rights and many other regional and international human rights instruments which Swaziland is a party to. The judgment erodes accountability and transparency and succeeds in instilling fear and works as a deterrence against critical thought. 

Court of law must safeguard and protect the constitution. Courts must interpret the law to allow people to enjoy their rights. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated in 3 May 2012 that "Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity. Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise."

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