Swati Newsweek, May 15, 2020

By Eugene Dube

My fight for justice had been challenging, I had to cross an overflowing river at night to escape persecution in Royal Eswatini.

Swati Newsweek Online editor Eugene Dube.

However my spirit is not broken.
Iam convinced that the day of freedom is getting nearer. As King Mswati’s subjects our hunger for greater economic and political reforms grows !

Each time The Dlamini dynasty blunders on violating our liberties like freedom of expression as a people, we must come together and strengthen our fight for our freedom.

We are no longer Mswati’s subjects but citizens of Swaziland. Our freedoms cannot be taken away easily!

We have the power as a people to liberate ourselves. We built the Swazi Monarchy and we must hold it accountable to be caring and democratic institution. The king is there to safeguard our resources and serve the Swazi nation.

In Africa once you conquer you become the legitimate authority . Our freedom will be determined but us as citizens of a modern Swaziland.

I never knew that writing the truth would cost me so much. I never knew it would make me a prisoner. My liberties like freedom of expression and movement have been taken away.

My news organisation is persecuted by the king’s government. The Swazi Monarchy has cooked up charges of contravening COVID-19 regulations. I have been informed that this was just a strategy to silence me. This has been confirmed by Eswatini Government spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini who told the Voice of American that, I am wanted for allegedly breaching COVID-19 regulations. I am shocked and dumbfounded because the Swazi police only complained about the articles that were critical of King Mswati. The one which triggered this whole commotion is titled ‘removing king possible’.

I find myself on the police’s ‘WANTED’ list for giving a platform to a pro-democracy movement to air their views on the political situation in Swaziland.

The Swaziland police turned my home into a war zone, fighting a journalist armed with only a Pen. They came four times armed with guns within a month. I had to sleep in a forest after I was assaulted by police during their first arrival. This was during their allegedly ‘lawful raid’. I was subjected to extreme harassment; hence fleeing was the only remedy.

I had no food, no shelter in the forest where I was hiding. I had to sleep in the forest in fear of police’s continued torture and arrest. Cops were coming to my home every now and then. If I had committed a crime, they were free to charge me instead of harassment.

“When we come back to you Eugene, we will leave you reeling in a pool of blood. Stop criticizing the king.”, threatened a senior cop Superintendent Clement Sihlongonyane based in Mbabane Police Headquarters.

His words changed my attitude towards the police. It dawned to me that Police don’t care about the people.
Why would a prey present itself to the predator, or the hunted to the hunter? Surely, no person in his right senses can do that. Instead, I spent over five days sleeping in the forest. The first two days I had a loaf of bread. I was alerted that police were in my home while I had gone to buy bread. Hence I ended up with the loaf of bread in hiding in the forest.
While I was in the forest, I heard strange noises from different sorts of wild animals; Impala, rabbits, snakes like mamba fled each time I glanced at them. Like them, I was frightened too. Luckily, I still had one cellphone that was never confiscated. I checked Facebook; I realized that my plight had reached the public domain.

I was hungry and thirsty at the same time. As I pondered, there was non-stop tweeting of birds. Their melodies comforted me. I remembered that I was still a free man on the run, not a prisoner.

Backed by a battalion of angels, the snakes and other dangerous wild animals could not harm me. Flames of fire hovered over my head as I spent nights in the forest. Two times I managed to go and buy bread from another shop. My freedom had been tampered with; I could hear the voices of the violent and heartless King’s police officers roaring in my ear. Their actions were an attempt to instill fear and blind submission. But my spirit was never broken.

During that moment, the leader of Swaziland Economic Freedom Fighters Ncamiso Ngcamphalala was also arrested and charged with sedition. He was charged for merely calling for greater economic and political reforms.

The story in question was titled “Removing King Possible”. Cops were furious, saying I and the EFF president were trying to overthrow the king.

“I am only caring a pen. How can I stage a revolution?” I politely asked them.

The cops were angry. They came looking for me four times. It shows me they were determined to arrest me.

The court case on EFF Swaziland also affects this publication, the Swati Newsweek. Cops tried to force me to testify against the EFF leader. This will put my journalism career at risk. I cannot interview a person today, and then once the story is published, the person is arrested. How can I be expected to testify against the same person? No, that cannot happen. It has never happened before that a journalist had to testify in such a political case in Swaziland. Cops are just persecuting the Swati Newsweek for exposing failures of King Mswati’s government. Our approach of promoting democracy has infuriated the Swazi Royal Family.

EFF Swaziland President Ngcamphalala will move a bail application in the High Court of Swaziland this week. He faces a sedition charge after calling for economic and political reforms in Swaziland.

The move has forced King Mswati III to unleash his battalion of cops who allegedly tortured and arrested the young president.
This comes after Ngcamphalala had an interview with this online publication. The police also raided the home of Swati Newsweek Online editor Eugene Dube. They assaulted the editor and seized all his working tools like laptop, cell phones, notebook and some company documents. The cops said as the Editor I was wrong to give EFF Swaziland President Ncamiso Ngcamphalala a platform to promote democracy and criticize King Mswati III.

The cops also raided Swati Newsweek Online political analyst Mfomfo Nkambule’s home.

Cops confiscated his gadgets like a laptop and cellphones.

I am convinced that justice in Swaziland is given to the privileged ones. Many have been tortured and died mysteriously in the hands of the police, but no action was taken. How much shall we pay for standing for the truth?

To be continued…………

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