Mbabane - Swaziland police detained the leaders of banned
political parties and several activists on Wednesday at the trial of
journalists charged with publishing articles critical of King Mswati III's government,
an AFP correspondent and a spokesperson said.
Officers detained Mario Masuku, president of the People's
United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), as he was leaving the courtroom, according
to an AFP correspondent.
"A group of our comrades are currently detained in
police custody. No charge has been laid as yet," PUDEMO spokesman Themba
Mabuza told AFP.
Meanwhile Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) deputy leader
Mlungisi Makhanya and 15 others were detained after protesting outside the
The activists clashed with police when officers detained
Makhanya. The group were blocking police vans from entering the court grounds
in protest at the trial of columnist Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu, editor
of The Nation magazine.
Strict media regualtions
The pair have been charged with contempt of court over
articles critical of apparent government and court abuses.
Makhubu penned a column criticising head judge Michael
Ramobedi, while Maseko questioned a government vehicle inspector's detention
The journalists were arrested in March, released and then
rearrested this month.
Police have blocked activists from attending the trial and
planted plain-clothes officers in the public gallery.
The High Court dismissed an application to allow the
activists to attend the trial, according to the pair's lawyer Ncamiso Manana.
Media in Swaziland operate under strict regulations, and
criticism of Mswati and his government is illegal.
The trial will resume on Monday.