Mbabane: On Tuesday, 14 July 2015, the Swaziland Supreme Court granted bail to the president of the People’s United Democratic Movement, Mario Masuku, and the secretary general of the Swaziland Youth Congress, Maxwell Dlamini.
Masuku and Dlamini were arrested on 1 May 2014 after participating at a May Day celebration in Swaziland. They had unsuccessfully applied for bail twice in 2014, and had appealed the High Court’s refusal to release them to the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the prosecution indicated that it believed that as a result of past and future delays in the finalisation of Masuku and Dlamini’s criminal trial, the pair should be released on bail. Before the Supreme Court, the prosecutor indicated that he did not intend to oppose the appeal, and the Court immediately upheld the appeal and ordered Masuku and Dlamini’s release on bail.
“We are enormously relieved that Masuku and Dlamini have finally been released from pre-trial detention after fourteen months,” said Caroline James, a freedom of expression lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre which has been supporting the case. “It was heartening to hear the Acting Chief Justice speak from the bench and affirming the constitutional right to bail and the need to ensure that pre-trial detention is not abused. Today’s proceedings have reinforced the importance of an independent judiciary, able and willing to make decisions based purely on legal principle.”
Masuku and Dlamini, along with four other activists, have filed a challenge to the constitutionality of the offences under which they have been charged. The application will be heard by the High Court on 8 and 9 September 2015.
Masuku and Dlamini were represented by Advocate Anna-Marie de Vos and Leo Gama.
For more information:
Caroline James, Southern Africa Litigation Centre, freedom of expression lawyer: firstname.lastname@example.org; +27 63 038 9714.