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PUDEMO seven freed on E15 000 bail each

image ARE YOU SURE?: Lawyer Vusi Kunene with some of the seven arrested PUDEMO members who were granted bail by Judge Mumcy Dlamini.

THE seven PUDEMO arrested members have been granted E15 000 bail each by High Court Judge Mumcy Dlamini.

Mlungisi Makhanya, Bongani Hlangabeza Gama, Ntobeko Gideon Maseko, Siza Jabulani Tsabedze, Brian Clive Ntshangase, Mangaliso Menzi Khumalo and Bafana Mabandla Khumalo couldn’t hold their joy when Judge Mumcy delivered her judgment yesterday at the High Court.

About 100 people crammed the courtroom to support the seven who were arrested two weeks ago whilst attending the ongoing trial of incarcerated The Nation Magazine Editor Bheki Makhubu and Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko. 

Makhubu and Maseko are facing contempt of court charges emanating from articles published in The Nation Magazine during the February and March issues. The articles were in relation to the arrest of Government Chief Vehicle Inspector Vincent Bhantshana Gwebu.  

PUDEMO is a proscribed entity, according to the Suppression of Terrorism Act. 

The seven were found wearing berets and T-shirts written PUDEMO and this, according to the Act, is an offence. They were all charged with four counts of terrorism. 

On the first count, they are charged with contravening Section 11 (1) (a) of the Suppression of Terrorism Act no.3 of 2008. On the second charge they contravened Section 11 (1) (b) of the same act. It is alleged that on Tuesday and Wednesday last week along High Court, Mbabane Bus Rank and Mahlokohla Street near kaZondle corridor, they unlawfully solicited support for and or gave support to a terrorist entity, PUDEMO. 

They are said to have chanted slogans while wearing the white T-shirts written PUDEMO and reflecting terrorist demands at the back. They also wore red and black PUDEMO berets and thus contravened this act. 

They were also charged with contravening Section 4 (a) (b) (c) and (e) read together with Section 3 (c) and (e) of the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act no.46 of 1938 as amended. 

With their act they are alleged to have attempted, prepared, and conspired with others to do an act with seditious intentions. According to this charge, they brought into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Swaziland and or promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population in the country.

Judge Mumcy noted that all the PUDEMO members had their families in the country. She said this included Makhanya who is said to have businesses in South Africa. Judge Dlamini noted that Makhanya comes to the country to be with his wife and children almost every weekend.

“A perusal of the four counts reflects that the mischief alleged against applicants is that they unlawfully solicited or gave support to a terrorist entity i.e. PUDEMO by wearing T-shirts with inscription PUDEMO. Nothing turns on enchanting of terrorist slogans because there are no specific words mentioned in the indictment indicating the same,” she noted.

The judge said nothing was to be said of the seriousness of the charges the seven are facing after the state counsel withdrew his submission that the applicants were charged with an offence of violence. This was after he was asked by the court to demonstrate where such was shown in the charge sheet. They were each granted E15 000 bail. They were ordered to pay E5 000 cash and provide surety to the tune of E10 000. 

All of them were ordered to submit their travelling documents or passports to the head of investigation team and not apply for any. 

However, Makhanya was granted leave to retain one of his travelling documents for purposes of attending only to his employment in South Africa.

They were also ordered to report to Mbabane Police Station, Lukhozi Department once every last Saturday of each month-end.

 

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