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Friday, 23 January 2009
SWAZILAND POLICE ARREST ACTIVIST
Zodwa Mkhonta, a leading activist of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), has been arrested in Swaziland under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
News emerging this morning (Friday 23 January 2009) is that one of Mkhonta’s sons, Stephen Noge, was arrested by the Mbabane Police at the Mbabane Government Hospital. They accused him of distributing PUDEMO material which is an offence in terms of the terrorism act as PUDEMO is a specially listed entity and therefore illegal.
Early this morning, the police raided Zodwa’s house where they found old PUDEMO material after conducting a search. All the people that were found in the house were subsequently arrested as a result. These include Zodwa’s eldest son Mfundo and five other family members.
According to their lawyer Thulani Maseko, no charges have been preferred yet against Zodwa and the six family members. Police though were still studying the Suppression of Terrorism Act with a view of finding charges that can hold. He further stated that the police are about to conclude charges for Stephen Noge whom they accuse of distributing PUDEMO pamphlets. He is due to appear in court sometime today.
Zodwa is one of the leading women activists in Swaziland who was involved in the founding stages of PUDEMO. She is part of senior management at the Swaziland Electricity Company where she is employed and also sits in the board of the Foundation for Socio- Economic Justice.
Police in Swaziland have clamped down on dissent in the kingdom following the illegal appointment of Barnabas Dlamini as Prime Minister.
In November 2008, he declared PUDEMO and three other political entities to be ‘terrorist organizations’ which means that any member or supporter can face up to 25 years in jail. The day after Dlamini’s announcement Mario Masuku, president of PUDEMO was arrested and is presently held in jail awaiting trial.
Posted by Richard Rooney
Sunday, 25 January 2009
SWAZILAND ACTIVIST ARREST UPDATE
More details are emerging of the arrest of Zodwa Mkhonta, a leading activist of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), who was taken in by police on Friday for questioning under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Mkhonta’s son, Stephen Noge, was detained on Thursday (22 January 2009) at the Mbabane Police Station, accused of distributing leaflets from the banned organisation PUDEMO to patients at the Mbabane Government Hospital.
Noge said he had gone to the hospital to visit a sick relative and on the way he had found the leaflets outside the town library. He did not read them and didn’t know they were from the PUDEMO.
When he arrived at the hospital he was surprised to find police officers waiting. They questioned him over the leaflets and took him to the police station, where he was held overnight. Police interrogated him in an attempt to discover the names of people connected with ‘terrorist’ organisations in Swaziland.
Police refused to allow Noge to contact relatives to let them know he had been arrested.
According to a report in the Times Sunday today (25 January 2009), on Friday morning police went to his homestead at Thembelihle where they searched for political documents. They found old ones from PUDEMO that were used by Noge’s father Simon who is now based in South Africa. Noge said his mother and relatives (eight in all) were taken to the police station for questioning.
He told the newspaper that he and his family were released because police had not completed their investigations.
Zodwa Mkhonta, a leading activist in PUDEMO and a former trade union leader, accused the police of harassing her family. She said they accused them of being terrorists. ‘It’s really a cause for concern to us that we are being harassed in our home country,’ she said.