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The students' president is still in jail

By Sibusiso Magnificent Nhlabatsi

Friday 20 January 2012 Global Justice

Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students was arrested on April 2011. He was charged under the Explosives Act in that he was suspected to have had explosives. He made bail application at the Manzini Magistrate Court where the court refused to grant him bail. After months of staying in prison his lawyer, Mandla Mkhwanazi, appealed to the high court of Swaziland for review of the refusal of bail by the subordinate court.

The high court through Justice Bheki Maphalala granted him bail fixed at 50 000 Emalangeni payable in cash only. Further he set out bail conditions as follows:

  • Maxwell must report to Mbabane Police Station four times a week ( Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)
  • He must surrender his passport to the Police
  • He must not interfere with state witnesses.

This was an outrageous judgment from Justice Maphalala. Swaziland is crippled with greed and corruption but we have never seen such unreasonable bail conditions. Eight people in 2008 were charged for stealing 50 million but were granted 20 000 bail two thousand cash and the balance in surety. We had expected that in such a huge amount someone would stand in as surety for comrade Maxwell but the court denied that as it made an order of cash only. Most legal practitioners have viewed the actions of the judge to that of denying the comrade bail indirectly.

In all these frustrations we go through we are optimistic to work even hard. To us as students the continuance existence of undemocratic tinkhundla system of government in our country is a constant reminder to us that we have a war to find. Maxell’s spirit is strong and he is of strong character. The tyranny of our regime will not defeat him and we will outlast the fascist system. 

We are grateful to the National Union of Students (NUS) in the United Kingdom and Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) for their continued support on comrade Maxwell. Comrade Danielle Grufferty, and other many comrades have always been with us every step of the way. I remember she even attended comrade Maxwell’s bail hearing. Really, you have done so much for us.

We are trying by all means to raise the 50 000 Emalangeni bail money. We are facing difficulties but we hope we will prevail. Any sort of help from will be highly appreciated and valued. We may be a poor group, poor young men and women who grew up inn difficulties. But we are fighters and want what’s best for us, next generation, our country and the world. We want Swaziland to be a democratic state. We want human dignity to prevail we want to be known as a small nation that is democratic which uphold rights of human beings.