PUDEMO President Mario Masuku detained by Swazi police

Protester's -at the Oshoek Border Gate demanding the release of political prisoners in Swaziland


MBABANE: Mario Masuku, the President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) was allegedly detained by the Swazi police and blocked from participating in a protest march organized by South African political organizations. These organizations include the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Mpumalanga branch, National Education Health and Allied Workers Union(NEHAWU) and the Swaziland Solidarity Network(SNN) among others. Swaziland is ruled by Sub saharan Africa’s last absolute Monarch King Mswati who banned all political parties from participating in elections.

The police obviously acting on the strength of the 1973 Decree that banned political parties and vested all Executive, Judicial and Legislative powers on the King, rounded up the PUDEMO President at the Oshoek boarder gate that connects Swaziland and South Africa.

He was about to cross to the South African side to join political activists who were demanding democratic reforms, the release of Amos Mbedzi and other Swazi political prisoners.

Swazi police spokesperson Superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed that the PUDEMO President was blocked by the police, however he clarified that he was not arrested or charged.

“I can confirm that police did take away Mario Masuku to the Mbabane Police Station. He was only warned that the border blockade involving political formation at Ngwenya border gate was illegal. When asked if the intention was not to arrest him, Mamba insisted that the PUDEMO President was not arrested.

“Masuku was not arrested but taken to the police station by the police and later released he was also not charged” said the Swazi Police Spokesperson. Reached for comments, the PUDEMO President confirmed that he was blocked from participating in the protest march but referred further comments to Jerome Shongwe the Deputy Treasure General.

Shongwe when speaking to this publication said police detained Masuku, Mphandlana Shongwe and himself for over an hour. He said only Mphandlana was taken to the Mbabane Police Station.

“When we asked them why they were blocking us from participating in the protest march, they said they were acting on the strength of an order from above” he said Shongwe.

The protest march was to demand democratic reforms in Swaziland, the release of Amos Mbedzi and other political prisoners. Mbedze was arrested and subsequently convicted of treason and murder among other charges after he was accused of attempting to bomb the Lozitha Bridge together with lawyer MJ Dlamini and Jack Govender.

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