News24

Zuma asked to mediate in Swaziland

2010-05-28 09:46

Johannesburg - The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference on Thursday asked President Jacob Zuma to intervene in Swaziland's "political crisis".

SACBC president Archbishop Buti Tlhagale said in statement: "I have written to President Zuma to ask the government to take part in normalising the situation before it resembles what happened in Zimbabwe.

"I've asked the president to consider a mediating role to facilitate a climate of dialogue among all stakeholders in Swaziland."

SACBC leaders recently expressed shock at the death of Sipho Jele after he was arrested for wearing a People's United Democratic Movement T-shirt during May Day celebrations in Manzini on May 4.

Tlhagale said: "The authorities are claiming that he committed suicide whilst in custody, but the family of the deceased, together with civil society organisations, dispute this."

The "tragedy" was reminiscent of the tactics used against those who challenged the status quo in apartheid South Africa, Tlhagale said.

State repression in Swaziland had increased since the implementation of its new constitution, which was finalised in 2006, he said.

"There has been an influx of activists from Swaziland seeking refuge in South Africa this year," he added.

Tlhagale said the SACBC also supported and endorsed the call by Manzini's Bishop Louis Ncamiso Ndlovu for an independent body to conduct the inquest into Jele's death.