Local trade unionists are demanding answers following the apparent killing in custody of Sipho Jele, an activist in the Swaziland Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union (SAPWU) and People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), who was arrested during May Day protests. Swaziland’s largest opposition party, PUDEMO is being relentlessly persecuted under the government’s notorious Suppression of Terrorism Act. Swaziland has been living under a State of Emergency since 1973. Swazi authorities are calling the Jele’s death a suicide.
South Africa‘s powerful trade union COSATU has also taken up the case, issuing a joint statement with the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) pronouncing their “strongest denunciation of the suspicious death in custody of Sipho Jele.” Swazi King Mswati has stated he sees “akukhanywane”—throttling or strangling—as the best way to deal with opposition. Several PUDEMO members have been killed in recent years. (Afrol News, May 12)