Thursday, January 9, 2020

Swaziland democracy activists tell High Court police raids on their homes illegal

Four democracy campaigners in Swaziland (eSwatini) whose homes were raided by police and had phones and other gadgets confiscated appeared in the High Court to argue that the raids were illegal.

They said the search warrants used were not valid.

The four were Sibongile Mazibuko, Musa Nkambule, Jan Sithole and Wandile Dludlu. They are leaders of various political groups in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as absolute monarch. They all belong to the recently-formed Political Parties Assembly (PPA). Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and groups that campaign for democracy are outlawed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Police raided homes of political activists across Swaziland after warrants were issued on 25 November and 19 December 2019. 

The four said that the search warrants were illegal because they did not specify what the police were looking for. They also said the warrants were issued by magistrates who did not have authority to do so.

The case was heard on Wednesday (8 January 2020). A ruling is expected on 24 January 2020.

The Swaziland United Democratic Front, one of the groups targeted in the police raids, in a statement circulated on social media at the time, said, ‘This comes weeks after the all progressive formations in the country resolved to unite under the banner of the Political Party Assembly to fight against the Tinkhundla regime. This led to the start of a campaign that was dubbed #MSWATI MUST FALL and has since been gaining momentum and meeting equal resistance from the autocratic regime.’

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre in a statement said, ‘We are concerned by the actions of the police, which appear to be targeted at those activists who have been prominently involved in protests relating to workers’ rights and who have been promoting multi-party democracy and government accountability in the country.’

See also

Swaziland police in mass raids on homes of democracy activists, some detained

Swaziland police say they raided democracy activists’ homes for ‘state security’

Police question Swaziland political leader amid fears of treason charge

Swaziland ex-Govt minister in hiding after calling on absolute monarch to hand over power

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