Mbabane: Police at it again: they have detained one of the Swaziland finest journalist for executing his constitutional duties. Eugen Dube spend almost 7 hours in the hands of the police.
Former Eswatini News (formerly Swazi News), reporter Eugene Dube, who now plies his trade as an editor of Swati Newsweek Online publication, Swaziland News, was on April 23 detained by the Nhlangano police and hauled before Nhlangano Magistrate Thulani Dlamini on charges of writing ill about His Majesty King Mswati III, an act which according to the police constitutes high treason. Dube indicated before the magistrate that he would consult with his lawyer.
In many countries high treason is the crime of disloyalty the head of state and is considered to be the most serious of offences (more than murder or other felonies), high treason is often met with extraordinary punishment, because it threatens the safety of the state.
Reportedly, two vans filled with plain clothed police officers came to his home in Nhlangano and asked to search his house. “They produced fraudulent court documents and proceeded to go into my house where they began their search,” said Dube. He said the documents bore a false identification, issuing a Dlamini whereas he is a Dube. “They seized three smart phones, laptop, charger, documents related to journalism and notebooks,” said Dube.
Dube said the police told him of two articles which they said were critical of the king and amounted to high treason. The first article ran a headline along the lines of the king being reckless on public health, from observations at the various health centres where there were long queues without the observation of the COVID-19 regulations which require ample space between people.
The second article was on the newly established political party called EFF Swaziland, which according to Dube calls for political and economic reform in the country. Dube said he felt totally harassed by the police since all his stories were attributed to his sources. He said the new political party, EFF Swaziland runs a Facebook page where they indicate their intentions, adding that the political party has been there long before they even wrote about them. He said as a publication they have a mandate to inform the public based on sources.
Dube said the government, and by extension the king, who is the direct employer of the civil service, diced with peoples’ lives by virtue of failure to instil strict measures pertaining to the observation of the COVID-19 Regulations. Dube said the police told him he should rather have written about the prime minister who is the head of government, and not the king, as such was tantamount to inciting the masses against his authority.
Dube said the police told him investigations were on-going and as soon as they were done they would call him again.
Dube’s arrest follows a declaration by the police that they want the Swaziland News editor, Zweli Martin Dlamini who is alleged to have perpetrated fake news about his Majesty the King. To this date Dlamini has not surrendered himself to the police neither are the police aware of his whereabouts. The police issued that anyone who knew about the editor’s locations and yet said nothing invited trouble for himself.
Following the reports of the detention of Dube, Economic Freedom Fighters of Swaziland (EEFSWA) issued a statement strongly condemning the phycological warfare by the Royal Eswatini Police for abusing power and demonising and torturing innocent journalists and its members during the critical time of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The EFFSWA has noted with incredibility and great concern that Royal Eswatini police have engaged in an inhuman act of victimising journalists,” the statement reads in part.