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MBABANE – The first pioneer for the legalisation of cannabis in the country, Dr Ben Dlamini, has passed on.
Dlamini passed away yesterday morning at the Mbabane Government Hospital.

Dlamini was also the former Director of the then Examinations Council of Swaziland, which is now the Examinations Council of Eswatini.
His daughter, Nonhlanhla Dlamini, in an interview, confirmed that Dr Ben had passed on at around 7am yesterday.

Dr Ben, as he was passionately known, passed on at the age of 84 as he was born around 1936 according to his daughter.
She said he had taken ill just before 6am yesterday morning and he was rushed to the Mbabane Government Hospital where doctors declared him dead at around 7am.

She said the cause of death was not yet clear, but an erupted ulcer was suspected to have been the cause.


Dr Ben started advocating for the legalisation of dagga in the early 80s with his primary goal being able to use it for the development of the country.         

However, Dr Ben made his intentions known in 2010 when he applied to the High Court for the legalisation and trading of dagga.
Unfortunately, Dr Ben has not lived to see his wish being realised as government and Parliament are still working on the regulations for the legalisation of dagga.

In his application, the deceased had wanted the High Court to help him get an order that would make government not only legalise cannabis but also allow him to operate a cannabis processing factory in the country.

He had stated that he wanted to set up a national cannabis processing and marketing company, with all growers in the country supplying his factory.
He had submitted that his factory would then solicit orders from local and international pharmacies, adding that he would also involve international research institutions to conduct research on processed and raw cannabis. Dagga is also referred to as cannabis.

The deceased had also wanted government to amend all laws that criminalised cannabis, but only render illegal the extracts of the plant that contain tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active ingredient that makes a user high.


Dlamini held a Doctorate in Education, Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Chemistry, which was obtained from the University of Massachusetts. He argued that cannabis was not a drug and was not addictive, adding that it was neither intoxicating nor poisonous.

In his then application, he had referred to a number of researches done in the United States of America and in Asia. Dlamini was challenging Section 151 (1) of the Opium and Habit Forming Drugs Act of 1922.

Dr Ben had further wanted the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade to grant him a 10-year exclusive licence to grow dagga.
Meanwhile, the Exams Council of Eswatini (ECESWA) administration is in shock about the demise of its former Director, Dr Ben.
Registrar of ECESWA Dr Edmund Mazibuko, when called, said he was in a meeting, but had heard the news. 

He said, however, he was not in a position to comment further as the news were still fresh and they were in shock.


Interestingly, the house which Dr Ben had occupied until he met his death in Dalriach East belongs to ECESWA or is registered under the council.
Dlamini retired from the Exams Council around 2001.

His daughter, Nonhlanhla, alleged, however, that her father had not received any pension since he retired.
She said this was a matter which had been discussed over the years as there was no clear explanation why the deceased was not pensionable.

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