The trial of Swazi student leader and political prisoner, Maxwell Dlamini, finally started last week after having been postponed and delayed since last April, where Maxwell Dlamini was apprehended by police and allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession to being in possession of explosives. At the trial, Maxwell Dlamini and his co-accused, Musa Ngubeni, pleaded not guilty to the charges of contravening Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961. Several representatives of Swaziland’s democratic movement have referred to the charges as ludicrous and the long delay of the trial as a deliberate act by Swaziland’s absolute monarchy to discourage any opposition to its undemocratic and brutal rule. According to Wandile Dludlu of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, an umbrella movement of democratic forces in Swaziland, over 60 activists attended the court session in a show of support for Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni. “But the state is playing dirty delaying tactics because they don’t have credible witnesses,” said Dludlu, “The only state witness, superintendent Clement Sihlongonyane [who arrested Maxwell and Musa in April 2011], has already told blatant lies during a gruelling cross examination on the first day.”
According to the Times of Swaziland, Sihlongyane had claimed that Dlamini and Ngubeni led them to the explosives hidden in a forest voluntarily and that “bomb experts confirmed that the red, black and grey cables which were hidden in a white shoe box were indeed explosives.” “Sihlongyane later complained to court of not being well,” Wandile Dludlu said. “But on the second day of the trial, after the magistrate granted him relief to go to hospital, he came outside court to joke with his colleagues when Maxwell’s mother confronted him about the morality of his behaviour. He ran amok with all sorts of insults right in front of everybody.” The case is set to continue on the15th and 16th of February, the further delay being due to the alleged illness of superintendent Sihlongonyane.
By Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact
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