King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland (eSwatini) has hired lawyers to try to get an online newspaper to stop publishing critical articles about him.
The Swaziland News is published on a website hosted in South Africa. In the past, the King has simply ordered the closure of newspapers and the arrest of journalists who criticized him.
Swaziland News reported receiving a letter from South African law firm Brian Kahn Inc Attorneys on behalf of the King, Swazi government ministers and other officials.
Swaziland News reported: “Articles cited in the letter include, among others: ‘King Mswati, Stem Holdings and the multibillion dagga cold war’, ‘King Mswati defrauded the Swazi nation as part of a Sun International Hotels multibillion shareholding agreement, “” How King Mswati Seized a Multibillion-Dollar Pension Fund After Seizing Tibiyo TakaNgwane and the Contingency Fund “‘.
The newspaper reported: “The King, through his lawyers, demanded that this publication give him at least three (3) days to respond before publishing anything about it, he said it should. be done through the office of government spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini. “
Swaziland News editor-in-chief Zweli Martin Dlamini told the newspaper: “This is just a desperate attempt by the king to try to undermine access to information and media freedom, but he will not succeed “.
Ziphozonke Ngubeni, a South African national whose company Avulekhamazulu provides website hosting services to Swaziland News and was also quoted in the letter said he would not be told by the king how to provide services.
“The king is a dictator and thinks he can just come here, hire lawyers and intimidate us, this is South Africa and he’s just exposing himself. We provide services to Swaziland News and we cannot tell the editor what to post, we just provide accommodation, ”he told Swaziland News.
In August 2020, the Swazi government said it would prosecute Dlamini using “legal channels” after writing and publishing several articles indicating that the king had struck a multi-billion cannabis deal with a foreign company for his own benefit. .
It was not the first time that Zweli Martin Dlamini had trouble with the Absolute Monarch. In April 2020, he wrote and published reports that King Mswati tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and was taken to hospital with respiratory problems.
He reportedly fled to neighboring South Africa in March 2020 for the second time. He said he was arrested and tortured by the Swazi police who accused him of sedition.
Additionally, on February 7, 2020, The Swaziland News reported that Dlamini was being harassed and received death threats from King Mswati’s eldest daughter, Princess Sikhanyiso, who is Minister of Information, Communications and technology.
Dlamini had previously fled to South Africa fearing for his life in 2017. He had received death threats from a local businessman before his Swaziland Shopping newspaper was closed by the Swazi government when the recording newspaper under the Books and Newspapers Act 1963 was refused by the Swazi Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology.