Peter Kenworthy, Stiffkitten
20 December 2011
Maxwell Dlamini granted bail – at a massive 50 000 Rand
After having been denied bail on several occasions previously since they were detained, allegedly tortured, and charged of possession of explosives in April 2011, Swazi student leader, Maxwell Dlamini and activist Musa Ngubeni have finally been granted bail by Swaziland’s High Court judge Bheki Maphalala today (20 December 2011).
Unfortunately for the pair, bail was set at 50 000 Rand (around 6 000 US$) per person – by far the highest bail ever in Swaziland, according to a correspondent from global news agency AFP who was present at the hearing. The judge also demanded that they surrender their passports before being granted bail and wants them to report to the Mbabane police station four times a week.
50 000 Rand is a staggering amount in a country where the government of absolute monarch, King Mswati III, cannot afford to pay its bills and the salaries of its civil servants, where two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day, and where hundreds of thousands can only get by on food aid from the UN.
“The financial figure is very unreasonable,” a representative of the Swaziland United Democratic Front told Africa Contact today. ”This is a very unjust verdict for any court to make with regard to just a bail application. We are very angry and disappointed.”
Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice said that Swaziland’s civil society regarded judge Maphalala as a government lackey. ”The precedent set by the same court when it released people accused of high treason by granting them bail was only set at 5 000 Rand,” he said.
Manyovu Mnisi, lawyer for the suspects, said he was shocked at the judgement. “We find the judgment to be shocking and devoid of legal reasoning. It is strange that an offence which carries a fine of 2 000 Rand and a jail term of just two years could attract such an exorbitant bail and stringiest conditions,” Mnisi said.
There have been repeated calls for the release of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, both from the Swazi democratic movement, who have called the charges “a cover up for the heavy-handedness the police” during pro-democracy demonstrations in April, and internationally from the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign and its supporters.
Africa Contact’s Mandela Fund is collecting donations for Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni’s bail. You can donate here: http://www.afrika.dk/st%C3%B8t-mandela-fonden (remember to specify that the donation is for Maxwell and Musa’s bail), or by contacting Africa Contact’s Morten Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign here: http://freemaxwelldlamini.wordpress.com/