Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mario Freed


Hlengiwe Ndlovu
Swazi Observer
PUDEMO President Mario Masuku escorted by a security officer at the High Court yesterday

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.