Skip to main content

28 March 2024 – In January 2023, following the assassination of Eswatini human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ Troika called on the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the brutal killing. United Nations (UN) and African human rights special procedures went a step further, calling for an impartial investigation into Thulani Maseko’s murder. Later that year, the United States Congress passed resolution 174, which condemned the murder of Thulani Maseko and called on the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to conduct an independent investigation.

Thulani Maseko’s widow, Tanele Maseko, who witnessed his assassination, has continued the lone fight for justice for her husband, both locally and internationally. Instead of anyone being held accountable for Thulani Maseko’s death, Mrs Maseko and her young children have been the target of unsolicited harassment, persecution and intimidation by the authorities in Eswatini, including facing constant and cruel defamatory threats from government spokespersons.

In the early morning hours of 28 March 2024, Mrs Maseko was travelling back into the kingdom with her young children when she was informed by immigration personnel that she was on the police watch list (wanted). After being detained, Mrs Maseko was taken to the Mbabane headquarters by senior investigative police officers, where they confiscated her passport and cell phone without explanation. After the assistance of her legal team facilitated her release, she again reported to the police at midday on 28 March 2024 and was subsequently ordered to return on 2 April 2024. Her legal team is facilitating her full cooperation in this effort.

Mrs Maseko and her children deserve justice and to see a finality to the investigation into the assassination of her husband. Accountability and moral consequences must not remain elusive, hanging beyond the grasp of grieving hearts and demanding voices. Every unanswered question deepens the Maseko family’s despair and trauma and entrenches impunity for his assassination in front of his wife and children; every stone unturned is a monument to the arrogance of those who assassinated Thulani Maseko and those who continue to allow their impunity.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria (CHR) reiterate the call by the international community for an independent and impartial investigation led by a reputable body from SADC, AU and UN. We further call on States to intervene to protect Ms Maseko and her family.