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Rest In Power Thulani!

The news of the brutal killing of renowned human rights lawyer and political activist Thulani Maseko deeply saddens the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. Thulani was not an ordinary human rights lawyer; Thulani was the epitome of human rights law. Thulani humbly lived faithful to his calling until his last breath on 21 January 2023.

The news of the passing of Thulani, in particular the circumstances in which his life was mercilessly taken, come at a time when he and many like-minded citizens of Eswatini battle an oppressive and brutal political system.

Thulani led the charge against human rights violations and infringements in Eswatini, from land evictions to minority groups. He unwaveringly represented activists who fought against State repression. He spent a year awaiting trial in prison to assert the importance of judicial independence. He was frequently threatened for his outspokenness against the repression caused by the State and the monarchy. He was the principal applicant and lawyer involved in setting aside by the High Court some clauses of the infamous Suppression of Terrorism Act and Sedition and Subversive Activities Act in 2016.

Thulani travelled the world, raising awareness of the situation in Eswatini. He was a beacon of hope for African lawyers battling State repression. His bravery, resilience, humbleness and humanity will continue to encourage all who knew him.

To Mrs Maseko, the entire family and loved ones, SALC sends the deepest heartfelt condolences. We say to you “alwehlanga olungehlanga. Umsebenti wa Maseko uyatikhulumela wona. Lichawe liphumulile. We will cherish the memory of Maseko by consistently promoting the principles he held dearly; Human Dignity and Human Rights.”

We call on SADC to urgently institute an independent judicial investigation into the killing of Thulani Maseko.

We further call on the AU and SADC to immediately address the increasing targeting and assault of pro-democracy activists.

We commit ourselves to ensuring that Thulani’s legacy is remembered and that his killers are brought to justice. We call on human rights organisations worldwide to support our call to SADC and the AU to intervene urgently and to put pressure on their governments to call out the brutality of the Eswatini regime.