Swazi editor insists on his right to speak freely

Bheki Makhubu is one of the few journalists who is daring to raise tough questions in Africa's last absolute monarchy. On March 17th, he was jailed on contempt of court charges for publishing in his news magazine, The Nation, articles criticizing the actions of two judges in a high-profile case.

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  1. The incriminated articles, one written by Bheki Makhubu, the other by human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, criticized the actions of Swaziland's chief justice Michael Ramodibedi in the case of Bhantshana Gwebu, the government's motor vehicle inspector, who was arrested after impounding a vehicle used by another high court judge.
  2. The article also criticized the actions of another High Court judge, Mpendulo Simelane (right), in the handling of the case
  3. Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer, who also penned columns in The Nation criticizing the judges, was also arrested.
  4. Contempt of court was the main charge in the indictments 
  5. Supporters of the two writers kicked off social media campaigns on twitter and facebook to rally support
  6. On March 19th, Chief Justice Ramodibedi refused to hear the charges in open court where proceedings could be recorded. He insisted on seeing the men in his chambers where he remanded them into custody for seven days. 
  7. A wave of protests ensued
  8. Swazi expats in South Africa and local free speech activists staged a protest outside the Swazi embassy in Pretoria
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