Prominent Eswatini Lawyer Maseko Gunned Down

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An influential human rights advocate and opposition politician Thulani Maseko in Eswatini was shot and killed at his house on Sunday, a spokesman for the country told newsmen.

According to opposition spokesman Sikelela Dlamini, Maseko was shot dead on Saturday night in Luhleko, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Mbabane. The attackers were unidentified.

Sikelela Dlamini

Assailants shot him through the window as he was inside the house with his family, the spokesman claimed to have been informed.

“Details are still scant (and), owing to the trauma his family members are undergoing, they are not yet ready to speak,” Dlamini added.

The government extended condolences to the family and said that police were looking for the killers, calling Maseko’s passing a “lost for the nation.”

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Maseko, a renowned human rights attorney and columnist in Eswatini, was engaged in a legal dispute with King Mswati III on the monarch’s decision to rename the nation by decree Eswatini.

In 2018, to commemorate the nation’s 50th anniversary of gaining independence from Britain, Swaziland’s name was changed to Eswatini. Maseko believed that the king had not acted in accordance with the constitution.

The European Union demanded that the murderers be apprehended and expressed “grave concern” over the circumstances in Eswatini.

“The EU calls on the authorities to ensure the safety of all citizens, including political activists,” it said in a statement.

The U.S. Embassy at Mbabane expressed “profound sadness” and extended “deepest condolences to Mr. Maseko’s family, friends and admirers around the world”.

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“Eswatini and the world have lost a powerful voice for non violence and human rights,” the embassy added.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said last week that Eswatini’s security forces had been aided by the king’s hiring of mercenaries, primarily white Afrikaners from the country’s neighbor South Africa, to quell growing anti-government sentiment in Eswatini.

However, Alpheous Nxumalo, a government spokesman, claimed that “no hitmen have been hired.”

Freedom Under Law, a rights organisation active in southern Africa, accused the administration of wrongdoing.

“Somehow the stunning news that Thulani Maseko has been gunned down in cold blood comes as no surprise,” it said in a statement.

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“A ceaseless and fearless human-rights lawyer, an outspoken critic of the regime in his beloved Eswatini, Thulani had all too long suffered at the hands of a heedless regime.”

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