By MANQOBA NXUMALO
August 08,2009 Swazi News
MBABANE- Yesterday marked 264 days since PUDEMO President Mario Masuku was arrested.
If his public showing yesterday were to be used to judge his morale, then his comrades will be relieved to know that he is still as defiant and determined as ever.
Masuku appeared before High Court Registrar Lorraine Hlophe for his trial conference together with Lozitha alleged bomber Amos Mbulaheni Mbedzi. The two seemed happy as they belted out smiles, cracked jokes and at one time, Mbedzi even attempted to do the customary toyi-toyi while chained in leg irons.
Masuku was dressed in a formal black suit with a red tie, while Mbedzi was casually dressed in a khaki jacket, pants and white sneakers. The injuries that Mbedzi suffered on the night of the alleged explosion last year have completely healed, with only scars and a badly damaged eye the only indications that he had a close shave with death.
In fact he had even removed the bandage that used to cover his head when he made his court appearances at the Magi-strate’s Court last year.
The tight security at the High Court was indicative enough that Masuku was to appear in court together with Mbedzi as the High Court premises were littered with both uniformed and plain clothed police officers, monitoring every move made by the political prisoners.
On their way to the exit point, the two were accompanied by a large police Casper truck, loaded with armed to the teeth police officers. There were also two other security cars, one from the police and the other from the Correctional Services that closely monitored the accused persons.
In attendance in court yesterday were over 100 people, mainly drawn from the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and the Ex- Miners Association, who, coincidentally, had also come for their Free Education case yesterday.
So defiant was the PUDEMO chief that after all the court processes, and while being taken to the Matsapha Correctional Services, he shouted to the people who had come to see him ‘Amandla’ sending his followers, who had attempted to barricade the road that was going to be used to ferry Masuku away, to wild excitement. The SWAYOCO members then burst into songs about PUDEMO and Mario.
The pre-trial conference was conducted at the offices of the registrar and not in open court. It was attended by Masuku’s two lawyers Paul Shilubane and Thulani Maseko, as well as Mbedzi’s lawyer Leo Gama.
Masuku and Mbedzi told the registrar that they would both plead not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had instructed Thabiso Masina to represent the crown.
Masuku was told that the state will parade six witnesses who will testify against him, while Shilubane said they will not reveal their witnesses this time around as they wanted to see how strong the state’s case was against Masuku.