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MBABANE – Government propaganda or genuine threat on the life of Thabo Kunene?

This is the question social media users have been asking after a statement was posted by the Government, through the Spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo that there was a plot to harm self-confessed ‘commander’ of the Swaziland International Solidarity Forces (SISF). The statement was titled ‘Threats on suspect Thabo Kunene’s life’. Kunene was arrested a week ago by a contingent of police officers.


He has since appeared before the High Court and charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008, attempted murder and murder. He was arrested alongside Sibusiso Nkomonye, who was also slapped with several counts. Kunene is a former police officer whom some of the police officers who did not want to speak on record said he was one of the best trackers of criminals and managed to get many wanted robbers behind bars. He took deferred retirement from the service and left before he turned the age of 60 after working for over 32 years as a police officer, holding the rank of sergeant. Yesterday, the government spokesperson issued a statement that they had a credible intelligence report that there was a plan to harm Kunene.


He said this was an aim to manipulate the information which Kunene was divulging to the agencies of law enforcement under the interrogation.
The government further urged the public to report any suspicious persons to the nearest police station. In the statement, it was mentioned that this was being done as a deliberate strategy of diversion and to create a conundrum for government as the plotters attempt to push back on any possibility of linking them to certain criminal and murder cases which the suspect has been charged with.

“Government wishes to inform the nation that all is being done by national security services to ensure that the suspect, Thabo Kunene, is provided with maximum protection as he and his accomplice await trial,” the press release stated. It stated that ‘the suspect was divulging information’ to law enforcement agencies under interrogations. The government warned that all those who were or may be involved in this ‘diabolical plan’ to harm the suspect while in the custody of government should desist from it right away, for the law shall take its full course.


The statement further stated that the nation and all emaSwati to be on the lookout for people whose intentions were to cause chaos and confusion in the country and blame others for their respective criminal activities. However, despite the warning, social media is ablaze with the allegation that it was not true that anyone wanted to kill Kunene. Instead, the netizens alleged that the government was the same that wanted to kill Kunene and then blame the public for it. They alleged that it would not make sense for the government to issue the warning instead of just ensuring that security was intact to prevent anyone from getting into the secure place and harm him. Some of the Facebookers wondered how Kunene would be harmed if security personnel were guarding him 24 hours.


This publication has gathered that the security is so tight at the facility such that the security personnel are keeping the location of Kunene a highly guarded secret and many police officers are not aware where he is being kept.  It has not been mentioned which facility he has been kept. During this week, the Times of Eswatini reported that even relatives who wanted to see Kunene were not being allowed to do so. Some of the relatives are said to have wanted to visit him behind bars and also provide some new clothes, but it was gathered that they were not allowed to do so.

The relatives are said to have been barred from seeing him with some stating that they had not seen him for several months. Last Friday, the National Commissioner (NATCOM) of Police William Dlamini revealed that Kunene had been arrested. This was after 24 hours of speculation when the news broke out on Swaziland News that he had been detained at a home in Eswatini. It was reported that he was detained at a home belonging to ‘Dr Mkhulu, who is said to own a security company in that country.


He appeared at the High Court on the following day where he was informed of his charges. Meanwhile, there had been concerns from the members of the public on the manner in which he was arrested. Though the police have it on record that he was arrested when he entered the country illegally, social media has been abuzz that he was allegedly forcefully taken into Eswatini from the South African side. The NATCOM has disputed this version, adding that the police who arrested him were on patrol after being informed that certain people were about to enter the country illegally. He said it was after they had entered the country that they were arrested.

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