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RWA Swaziland: Justice for Tanele

The plight of Tanele Maseko, widow of the assassinated human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, has captured international attention as she continues to face harassment and detention by authorities in Eswatini while seeking justice for her husband’s murder. Thulani Maseko, a prominent figure in the human rights movement and a vocal advocate for democracy, was brutally killed in front of his family in January 2023, sending shockwaves through the nation.

Despite the passage of 14 months since the tragic assassination, Tanele Maseko has been met with relentless harassment from Eswatini authorities. Recent events have shed light on the government’s apparent campaign to intimidate her into silence, obstructing her pursuit of accountability for her husband’s murder and her commitment to continuing his legacy of promoting rights and democracy in Eswatini.

On March 27, as Tanele Maseko attempted to cross the border between South Africa and Eswatini with her two young children and a helper, immigration officials flagged her passport as belonging to a wanted person, leading to her detention and interrogation. Despite being released pending further questioning, Tanele faced further delays and uncertainty as police postponed her interrogation until April 2, raising concerns about due process and transparency.

Throughout this ordeal, authorities have failed to provide a clear explanation for why Tanele has been labeled a wanted person, leaving her and her supporters in a state of perplexity and distress. Reports have emerged suggesting that Eswatini state forces are targeting and monitoring Tanele, raising fears for her safety and well-being.

In the face of these alarming developments, regional human rights networks have rallied behind Tanele Maseko, condemning her detention and calling for an independent and transparent investigation into Thulani Maseko’s killing. Organizations such as the African Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) Initiative have demanded her immediate release, highlighting the unjust treatment she has endured simply for seeking truth and justice.

Support and solidarity have poured in from various quarters, with RWA Swaziland staging protests outside the police station to demand justice for Tanele Maseko and her family. Additionally, COSPE, a partner of RWA Swaziland, released a statement condemning the harassment of Tanele and emphasizing the need for accountability and transparency in the investigation into Thulani Maseko’s assassination.

As the international community continues to monitor the situation closely, it is imperative for the government of Eswatini to uphold the principles of justice, transparency, and human rights. Tanele Maseko’s unwavering determination to seek accountability for her husband’s murder should be met with respect and support, rather than harassment and intimidation. The government must ensure that she is afforded the rights and protections she deserves as she bravely carries on her husband’s legacy amidst adversity and uncertainty.

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