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MBABANE – “We are already serving our sentence.”

This has been said by the two incarcerated former Members of Parliament (MPs), Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, who have been in custody since July 26, 2021.
The former Hosea and Ngwempisi MPs are currently awaiting mitigation on sentence and sentencing after being found guilty of terrorism (inciting violence during the June/July 2021 unrest) and murder, among other charges, by Judge Mumcy Dlamini on June 1, 2023. They want Judge Dlamini to be called upon to finalise their matter. The former legislators say they have been in the dark for too long, as it relates to their fate, after being convicted about three months ago.


They have since written to the registrar of the High Court, through one of their attorneys, Ben J. Simelane, seeking the intervention of the Chief Justice (CJ), Bheki Maphalala, in their matter. They complained about being frustrated at being kept in suspense with regard to their fate. In their letter, the former legislators told the registrar that they wanted to know the outcome of the final lap of their case – mitigation and sentencing. They complained that their right to a speedy trial was violated with impunity and this called for the intervention of the head of the Judiciary in the country, being the CJ. Mabuza and Dube were convicted on June 1, 2023. Through their attorneys, the pair expressed their frustration over the non-conclusion of their matter.  

The former MPs want the CJ to impress upon Judge Mumcy Dlamini to conclude their matter. In their letter to the registrar, the former MPs made a hue and cry about Judge Dlamini not concluding their matter. In the correspondence, they stated that they were convicted of various crimes, including murder and terrorism. They stated that after their conviction, no date was set for mitigation on the sentence. “In our view, a criminal case cannot be postponed sine die (indefinitely); it has to have a specific date, especially when the accused persons are in custody,” said the MPs. They stated that it was unprecedented that a convicted person could stay for three months without a date for mitigation of sentence. “It is our plea that the trial judge be called upon to finalise the matter soonest, otherwise this is a failure of justice because the accused persons’ right to file an appeal is compromised and they are now serving sentence before their case is finalised,” reads part of the correspondence.  

Before sentencing, Judge Dlamini is first expected to find out whether there were extenuating circumstances in the matter that could warrant her to mete out a lesser sentence on the accused duo. Usually, extenuating circumstances render an accused person’s conduct less serious and thereby serve to reduce the punishment to be imposed. Judge Dlamini set out nine reasons upon which Mabuza and Dube were found guilty. MP Mabuza was acquitted of the offence of breaching COVID-19 regulations, which he was accused of committing during a community meeting that was attended by about 2 000 people at Hosea Inkhundla in June 2021. Their murder charge emanated from the death of two men who were run over by a motor vehicle that belonged to Sincephetelo Motor Vehicle Accidents Fund (SMVAF ) that hit seven people at Nkwalini at an illegal ‘roadblock’, where some residents stopped vehicles and demanded money. During this period, illegal roadblocks were mounted in various parts of the country.


The Crown led 65 witnesses to prove its case against the incarcerated former MPs, who have spent one year and 10 months behind bars, despite their three unsuccessful attempts to be released on bail. The former MPs led witnesses who included former Nkilongo MP Timothy Myeni and former Nhlambeni MP Manzi Zwane. In her judgment, Judge Dlamini highlighted that, where more than one person set out to commit a crime, in the event their purpose was achieved, each perpetrator’s unlawful conduct should be imputed to the other. In her analysis, Judge Dlamini said it was reasonable to conclude that Mabuza informed the nation that the current government was not worth listening to or complying with its orders. Judge Dlamini found that there was a common purpose between those who committed the crimes on the ground and the two MPs who incited them. She said where more than one person set out to commit a crime, in the event their purpose was achieved, each perpetrator’s unlawful conduct should be imputed to the other.


In the charge of contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008, the judge said noteworthy in the speeches of both the accused persons was that they informed their hearers that there were ills emanating from the appointed prime minister and all political appointees and such could only be cured by ‘review’ of the Constitution. She further noted that Mabuza also pointed out that they would ‘fight’ and that ‘Swazis will be free’. The court said, the questions that needed interrogation were what exactly they meant by ‘review’, fight and ‘Swazis will be free’? How did they intend to achieve the review or the ‘fight’ in order to have Swazis ‘free’? Regarding the speech that was made by Mabuza at Hosea on June 5, 2021, Judge Dlamini said: “From the speech by accused No.1 (Mabuza) as extracted from the video, it is clear that he advocated for a system where the King has no power in politics and he was selling this idea to the people who were present at Hosea Constituency.”

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