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By Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact
In a strange twist to the case of student leader Maxwell Dlamini and political activist Musa Ngubeni, both awaiting trial for allegedly being in possession of explosives in connection with the democratic uprising in Swaziland in April, they were interrogated by what appeared to be hired South African police investigators.
The two had previously been detained, interrogated and allegedly tortured by Swazi police to confess to charges that the Swazi democratic movement call ludicrous.
“On Friday at about 4 pm, two white police investigators, said to have been hired by the Swazi state from South Africa, went to the Manzini Remand Centre where Maxwell and Musa are held. These investigators were not accompanied by the two's lawyers or granted any permission by them to interrogate their clients,” says Dumezweni Dlamini from the Swazi NGO Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice.
According to Dumezweni Dlamini, the interrogators were seemingly attempting to assess their connection with the bombing of a royal palace three years ago, with the South African left who support democratisation in Swaziland and with two of Swaziland’s banned political parties.
“The investigators played video clips from the late Musa Dlamini and Jack Govender who died while they were allegedly attempting to blow up a bridge next to Lozitha Royal Palace,” Dumezweni Dlamini says. “They also forced them to say that they knew the arrested Amos Mbedzi, who was allegedly also part of the Lozitha Bombers. They also questioned them of their knowledge of [South African Trade Federation] COSATU, the South African Communist Party, PUDEMO and SWAYOCO.”
According to Dumezweni Dlamini, the interrogations took about an hour each and ended with the police telling the two prisoners that they would “put them on a leash in protecting the status quo in Swaziland against such terrorism acts.”
Swaziland, an absolute monarchy where political parties are banned and where two thirds of the population survive on under a dollar a day, has good relations with South African President Jacob Zuma, who is married to one of Swaziland’s King Mswati III’s nieces. The ANC also have investments in Swaziland, including an anthracite mine that the ANC’s investment vehicle, Chancellor House Holdings, owns 75% of.
South Africa has recently promised Mswati III a substantial loan of over $300 million to help stave off an economic and political meltdown in virtually bankrupt Swaziland. Swaziland had been refused loans from the IMF and the African Development Bank earlier this year, and there are rumours that South Africa is considering retracting the loan due to the persistent unwillingness of Mswati III to implement democratic reform.