Saturday, May 22, 2010
Like the past week, at about 5am this morning a battalion of hundreds of royal hit squads came to Sipho Jele's funeral.
This time around not raiding, but taking notes of what speakers had to say with the aim of targeting those who would say "viva PUDEMO".
Of note, this time they were carrying a digital video camera and recorded the morning sermon.
The environment was tense; last week's events were still fresh on the minds of the people who had attended.
Just when all was done, on our way back there was a road block, our car was following that of PUDEMO President and his son.
About 50 cops ordered Mario to get into the police van which took him to a police station near Luyengo.
In fear that he might be tortured as well, we decided to drive with them to the police station.
Many other comrades came, we waited out side the station. The media was already there to cover the story.
After waiting since morning we were told that he allegedly committed a crime under on terrorism act by shouting VIVA PUDEMO at the funeral.
After waiting for hours he was released, claiming that they will serve him with relevant papers so that he appear in court.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
MARIO FREED OF TERRORISM CASE22 September, 2009
PUDEMO President Mario Masuku was yesterday acquitted of a charge of terrorism.
He was acquitted by High Court Judge Mbutfo Mamba on the first day of his trial. He had been charged with contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act after he uttered statements to the effect that PUDEMO would continue with the bombing of vital government structures in Swaziland last year at the funeral of the late Musa Dlamini who was killed during a bomb blast at Lozitha bridge.
The funeral was held at KaLanga in Siteki.
Justice Mamba found that there was “poor quality of evidence” by the prosecution in the matter.
Appearing for the crown was Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini, whilst advocate Norman Kades, who had been instructed by Thulani Maseko, Masuku’s lawyer appeared for the defence.
Poor quality evidence, incoherent statements submitted to the court by witnesses and a series of dramatic errors led by Judge Mamba issuing the ruling that Masuku be acquitted.
After the examination and cross examination of witnesses in court, in a trial that began in the morning and ended shortly after lunch, Advocate Kades made an application to the Judge under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act of 1938 Section 174, Subsection 4 that the case be dismissed because of the poor quality evidence.
“My Lord, there is no way that the accused can be put on the defence to answer on the charges because the evidence which has been brought to this court is very poor. It is just not worthy.”
Furthermore, the advocate noted that within the evidence, there is nothing which also substantiates Masuku’s alternative charge.
The alternative charge states that “the accused is guilty of Contravening Section (5) (1) of the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act of 1938. In that or upon or about the 27th September, 2008 at or near KaLanga area, the said accused did unlawfully and with subversive intention utter the words to the effect that they will continue with the bombing of vital structures of the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland and did thereby contravene the said Act.”
Five witnesses had presented their evidence, and one of them was Superintendent Mike Zwane the police officer who was in charge of investigating the matter.
Evidence brought to the court by the first witness Sithembiso Shongwe was dismissed in the initial stages of the trial, on the basis that it was irrelevant.
Judge Mamba ruled that the evidence was inadmissible after Advocate Kades applied that it was irrelevant because Shongwe kept on telling the court about activities planned by PUDEMO in meetings that were held in South Africa.
One of these activities is the operation “vula vala”, which the witness described as being an activity planned by PUDEMO to disrupt last year’s parliamentary elections by bombing different Tinkhundla Centres and government structures. Submitting his evidence, Shongwe mentioned other sordid activities planned by his organisation to make the country ungovernable.
Shongwe is a defective member of PUDEMO, and is interestingly serving a term in prison for a string of cases.
Making his ruling Justice Mamba said, “I have heard the evidence which has been presented. I agree that evidence brought by the three other witnesses, apart from that made by the police officer is so poor that I can not make out or determine what they were talking about.
The application for the discharge of the accused is accordingly granted and written reasons will be issued in due course”.
Judge Mamba observed that the evidence by Superintendent Zwane did not in any way mention anything about Masuku’s charge.
DPP’s attempt to stop Advocate Kades’ application in vain
DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini tried to oppose Advocate Norman Kades’ application that Mario Masuku’s matter be dismissed but this was in vain.
Dlamini submitted that because a number of witnesses called by the state highlighted on the statements made by Masuku at MJ’s funeral and quoted him verbatim and as such argued that the matter should not be dismissed.
Making her alternative submission, she said Masuku had indeed made statements in support of terrorism at MJ’s funeral. Advocate Kades was worried with the use of the word “they” in the Masuku’s charge. The charge states that Masuku uttered statements that “they will continue with the bombing of vital structures of the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland”.
Advocate Kades argued that by saying “they”, Masuku was not referring to himself. The DPP said by uttering these statements, whether Masuku was referring to himself or other people is not important, but what matters is that he said something that supports terrorism.
Monday, September 21, 2009
4hrs ago: A PUDEMO member claims to have been trained in arms and is testifying against Mario.
3hrs ago: He details how he was trained on armed strategies through secret meetings.
3hrs ago: The man give details on three operations; operation rush hour, operation vula vala……
3hrs ago: only three people had testified
2hrs ago: toyi toying at the high court and chanting of political slogans.
An hour ago: The witness who claimed to have been "trained" is allegedly from custody arrested for rape.
50 min ago: Police officers arrest a PUDEMO member for wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt.
NOW : MARIO IS DISCHARGED…and FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
Mario Masuku is a free man….. He has been acquitted of all charges!
The court room is packed to capacity and many outside can not get in.
PUDEMO members were toyi toying, shouting VIVA PUDEMO and were threatened with arrest if they continued to do so.
One PUDEMO member has been arrested for wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt.
Two members of the American Embassy are present and representatives from the Canadian High Commission have been requested, by SSN Canada, to attend the four day hearings.
Monday, September 14, 2009
PUDEMO STATEMENT ON THE MARIO MASUKU TRIAL 14 September 2009
The Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) wishes to alert both the Swazi public and the international community on the coming trial of its President Mario T Masuku. Masuku was arrested in November 2008 less than 24 hours after the oppressive and undemocratic Swazi royal regime had ‘banned’ the organization describing it as terrorists. This is all because PUDEMO has over the years dared to challenge the regime to stop its dictatorial tendencies, human rights abuse, corruption, nepotism, harassment, lack of democracy, etc. For this, PUDEMO has been viewed by the regime as its greatest threat to its continued oppression of the poor masses of Swaziland.
On the 21 September, the trial shall commence at the High Court of Swaziland in Mbabane at 9am. The resilient members of PUDEMO from all corners of the country shall again descend on Mbabane in support of their President. They will be joined by the democracy seeking people of Swaziland under the banner of the Swaziland United Democratic Front. This is because Comrade Masuku’s detention has become a symbol of oppression for the people of Swaziland!
This will be a contest between freedom and oppression; justice and injustice. The defence team comprises fearless lawyers for human rights, who have over the years stood by and defended the oppressed people of Swaziland without fear of this brutal regime. There is Thulani Maseko (is himself out on bail on charges of sedition), Leo Gama, Mandla Mkhwanazi and Paul Shilubane. The regime has unashamedly run to South Africa, a democratic country to seek legal assistance on its fight to sustain its injustices and oppression on the people of Swaziland. Whoever shall take this offer must be condemned and discouraged, for the rewards are no different from blood money!
Meanwhile a prayer service is being planned in Swaziland for the coming weekend in preparation fro the commencement of the trial. We are also encouraged by the planned protest action by COSATU for the release of Mario Masuku on 25 September. A lot of activities internationally are currently taking place where people are calling for the release of Comrade Mario and the introduction of multiparty democracy in Swaziland. The Swaziland Solidarity Network is one of such.
Comrade Mario is fine and ready for the road ahead. The family also remains strong and fully behind him for they know that this is not only about them, but the fight for the oppressed masses of Swaziland.
However, as usual, the state will be unleashing its brutal security apparatus to intimidate, harass and even assault people who will be attending the trial. But we shall remain resolute in support of our President and the fight for democracy in Swaziland.
National Head of Publicity Zakhele Mabuza +268 607 3453
Deputy President Sikhumbuzo Phakathi 0731427594
Secretary General Sphasha Dlamini +268 608 9783
Sunday, August 30, 2009
6 to testify against PUDEMO’S Mario
SIBUSISO NGUBANE on August 30,2009
MBABANE—The Director of Public Prosecutions has lined up six witnesses to testify against incarcerated People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) President Mario Masuku when his trial kicks off next month.
The list of the six witnesses is contained in the summary of evidence which the DPP will present to court when Masuku’s trial resumes next month. However, the summary of evidence doesn’t say what the witnesses will tell the court as it happens in some matters. “Please take notice further that the crown will add more witnesses to the ones mentioned above,” reads part of the summary of evidence form.
Masuku is accused for contravening section 11 (1) (b) of the Suppression of Terrorism Act number 3 of 2008 or alternatively contravening section 5 (1) of the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act of Terrorism Act of 1938 as amended.
The PUDEMO president is alleged to have unlawfully and knowingly given support to the commission of terrorist acts by uttering the words to the effect that “they will continue with the bombing of vital installations and structures of the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland” and did thereby contravene the said acts.
He is said to have uttered words to the effect that Musa ‘MJ’ Dlamini and Jack Governder, who died in a bomb blast at Lozitha overhead bridge, were heroes and they died while PUDEMO needed them the most. He is accused of making these utterances on September 27, 2008 at KaLanga in the Lubombo region at the funeral of Dlamini.
About two weeks ago, Masuku appeared at the High Court of Swaziland before registrar Lorraine Hlophe for a pre-trial conference, where it was announced that his trial was expected to take off on September 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. Masuku has been behind bars for over 280 days now since he was arrested in November last year.
Masuku is represented by lawyer Thulani Maseko of T. R Maseko Attorneys, who is also facing terrorism charges in his own capacity.
The first names of the witnesses are not indicated in the summary of evidence but only their abbreviations appear with the surnames.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
BY MUSA HLOPHE
Sunday Times Aug 16, 2009
He and I last met at a funeral of my late senior sister in law, Ms. Dudu Dlamini, at Ekutsimuleni, in October 2008. It was at this funeral that we learned about our likely arrests. He was subsequently picked up in November 2008, and has been there ever since. At first I avoided visiting him because I knew that I was on the line as well, and then, secondly or later, because of the ban on visits.
But that was soon to be overthrown by the courts, thus opening the opportunities to visit him. On Monday this week Jan Sithole and I just felt the urge to want to visit Mario Masuku in prison. We drove in Jan’s car, got at the gates, where we were well treated, being asked to fill the forms, indicating who we were visiting, and stating our relationship with that. We indicated that we were visiting Mario Masuku and that we were his friends. We were then allowed in by very polite officers. Yes, they were very polite and obliging, a sign of good training in human relations and the exercise of power. Keep it up Bafana beMbube!
Once inside the premises, and having given the guard officers the document about our mission, we were made to wait, and it was a very long waiting, I tell you. But, as were waiting, something else happened. We saw somebody coming, running, and the person looked like one Ignatius B. Dlamini, former Secretary General of the now banned PUDEMO. Indeed it was him.
The three of us sat there, outside, chatting away time and trying to catch up on things of the struggle. For Jan and myself, it had been over nine months since we last met Mario, and a little longer when we last met IB. Therefore, the whole thing presented an opportunity for a good re-union of some sorts. But as we were enjoying the chatting, the officers called us in, again, politely asked us to be searched before we were ushered into room where Mario Masuku was waiting for us.
What a sight! Though separated by the strong fence or cage, we were able to push our fingers to touch him and stretched our hands to demonstrate our hugs of him! By this time we were fighting away our tears. It was so wonderful yet so painful. I have still not fully recovered from it, and I think I am likely to feel like that for sometime.
I saw in Mario, the extent of the cruelty of Swaziland’s evil political system of Tinkhundla; a decent and innocent individual like Mario Masuku rotting away there, simply for the pleasure of the ruling elite. It is totally unforgivable, I do not care what others may think of this. It is evil by men on men.
Mario told us his reasons for not applying for bail. He reasons that if he were to apply for bail, he would get it, and then never to be brought on trial, but being asked to report to the police station for the rest of his life, without being afforded an opportunity to defend himself or getting convicted. To support his argument, he pointed to the very I.B. Dlamini we were with. He reminded us that I.B. Dlamini and 15 others had been out on bail since 2006, and are being inconvenienced by having to report to the police since then without their matter coming to court. He could not live with that. He simply wants to be brought before a competent court and defend himself, because he believes in his innocence.
But it was very visible that he misses his family and his freedom. He told us that he did not wish, even for his worst enemy to spend even one night in that place. He says one night is a thousand nights long.
This is how he feels. He praises his family for being there for him during this trying time in their lives. He was happy we were there, all this time, wiping away tears, just as we also were struggling to appear strong, even the likes of Jan Sithole, whom we take as a source of strength, I saw him fighting away his tears. After all, we are all just human, when one hurts, we hurt too, and when it causes one to cry, we cry too, its as simple as that. We are also fragile, at least I know that I am extremely fragile when it comes to these things.
When we asked him if he was bitter about his incarceration: he said: “I am not bitter at all. The Prime Minister and his Government are just doing their job, or at least, this is what I think are their reasons for putting me here. What will hurt me the most though, is if I am here because some body wants to spite me, that I may never forgive, if I were to find that I am here because someone simply wants to see me suffering”.
You know, this is quite amazing, coming from a person who has been in and out prison, for the sole reason that he dared to challenge the evil system of Tinkhundla, which is his right as a citizen. Yes, he is not bitter.
Mario appeared at peace with God. He actually preached to us, (being a preacher of the gospel himself) reminding us, that his being there, is the will of God, so long as his motives for doing what he is doing are clean, and not coming from evil thoughts. He saw himself as a tool in God’s hands for His purpose in this Nation, to be peacefully transformed from this oppressive system to democracy. Though painful to be where he is, he sees it as God polishing him for His purpose, and that his faith means that he must be submissive to God’s calling.
With that said, we decided it was appropriate that we held our hands in prayer, and we prayed to God to give him strength, while thankful to Him that His man knew and understood His leading in even in the situation in which our Comrade finds himself. Amen.
Mario follows what goes on in this country, through the media. He told us how grieved he was when he read my article on the tribute to the late MJ Dlamini’s father’s death. He told us that he was still grieving hard because of this death, especially because he could not attend the funeral. He asked me to send his heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Dlamini, Make UlaKhoza, and her family, and tell her that he prays for their strength to cope with their loss. He told us that he was shocked too to read about the untimely passing away of his friend, Tom Mbelu. He says he could not come to the terms with that death. He said either myself or Jan or both of us, must make efforts to pass his condolences to Mrs. Mbelu and her family.
He then spoke about one of his pastors, who happened to have died just having visited him in prison, and the two of them having prayed together, he grieves for this pastor as well.
May all these families, I have mentioned here, find comfort in the knowledge that, even while incarcerated himself, and should be primarily concerned about his own welfare, Mario Masuku is concerned about others more than himself. If I happen not to see you in time, may you take comfort in the knowledge that we had you in our prayer at the prison with a detained suspect, who happens to care about you!
Please be comforted.
Mario Masuku also shared his concerns about the way the progressives were prosecuting the struggle. He actually chastised us for the apparent luxury of bickering among progressives. He had harsh words for those involved in what he sees as unnecessary contestations over political spaces between political formations and the larger civil society. He said any political entity which does not see the advantage with the mass democratic movement, was doomed to fail, and made his incarceration to be in vain. He told us, that those who sympathized with our struggle from outside, were not impressed with a fragmented progressive movement. He told us that each time he saw a sign of squabbling among progressives, his spirit sank, and made his time in prison totally unprofitable.
You know, those of you who have read the Apostle’s address to the elders of the church at Ephesus, as he was about to live for Jerusalem, where he knew he would arrested and possibly killed, will see a similar attitude and mood in Mario, as he addressed us. As if he saw some lack of understanding on our part, he said, in a loud voice: “Look here comrades, no one is greater than our struggle, and therefore, no one must ever try to privatize the struggle. You comrades must go out there and unite the movement, both inside and outside the country. This country looks to you for leadership, and future generations will only inherit a democratic state, if progressive forces learn to work together.”
I tell you, that was a good telling. We just sat there, listening to a natural leader sharing his insights and his vision. Of course Mario is right, there is nothing as disheartening as to see progressives squabbling among themselves. You do not see that among traditionalists and supporters of Tinkhundla. That does not mean that there are no squabbles within this group, but what it means is that this group is able to deal with its internal squabbles discretely.
Progressives can learn from that.
We salute Mario Masuku for the tough choice he has made, to stay in there, for a greater principle. I know is that, even though each night is like a thousand nights, however, there is greater pressure on the system, which has always prided itself with the claim it had no political prisoners. We now have Mario, whom we have denied access to speedy justice, may be because we know we do not have a winnable case.
What ever the case may be, Swaziland is on trial each day Mario spends in detention, and, as it was the case with Nelson Mandela, Mario’s detention makes him the symbol of our struggle. It also makes a mockery of Swaziland’s claim to peace making. If Swaziland can boast of having given peace to Zimbabwe, and now to Madagascar, but decide to keep in jail those we should be making with here at home, then its claim is hollow.
Mario is one of those fellow citizens we should be making peace with and not put them behind bars, with a hope that the problem will go away. Only the unwise do that, and we need to be a bit wiser in dealing with our own internal differences.Mario, as you read this article, know one thing, you encouraged us on Monday, so much so that we feel a sense of renewal in ourselves, in prosecuting the struggle until victory is won. Swaziland shall be democratic some day, we only pray that it happens in our lifetime.
Long live the spirit of freedom, long live Swaziland!