Is the Swazi government, ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III, trying to bleed student leader Maxwell Dlamini and his lawyers dry financially in the court case against him? Given the long delay of the court case, where he and fellow accused Musa Ngubeni are accused of being in possession of explosives during the North African-inspired Swazi uprising in April, this seems to be the case.
No matter what the reasons for the delay in Maxwell’s and Musa’s case, it is proving a financial problem for the two accused as well as their legal team, however, who are working pro bono. And there is also the obvious inconvenience of being imprisoned in a system that often tortures and manhandles its detainees and political prisoners, as happened to Maxwell Dlamini before the present court in order to him to sign a prepared confession. “The case is still at stand still with the lawyers still trying to get a trial date,” Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, of which Maxwell’s organisation SNUS is a party, says about Maxwell Dlamini’s case. “The case is taking quite some time for his lawyers such that it limits and also digs many resources from their commercial business. We only rely on the volunteerism of these attorneys.”
Other trials against members of Swaziland’s democratic movement certainly seem to show that the regime speculates in such stalling tactics, the most well-known case being that against illegal opposition party, PUDEMO’s, President Mario Masuku. Masuku was imprisoned for nearly a year before his case was finally heard in 2009. There was no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the accusations of terrorism against him, even though terrorism is defined very loosely in Swaziland, and the judge released him the same day.
By Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact, Coordinator of the Free Maxwell Dlamini campaign
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