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MBABANE – “We are not backing down.”

It is only a matter of time before former Hosea and Ngwempisi Members of Parliament (MPs) Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube are sentenced, but they maintain that they are still going ahead with their call. Prior to their arrest, Mabuza and Dube, as well as the still-at-large former Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane, called for the election of a prime minister, as opposed to one who was appointed. When addressing their supporters and family members yesterday, Mabuza said they were still holding on and were unshaken. “We know that they need us,” said Mabuza. The former Hosea MP made the brief address after the court had postponed their matter to next year. The former MPs were in court for submissions on sentencing.


Before postponing the matter, Judge Mumcy Dlamini said the parties had met in her chambers and the former MPs’ team sought a postponement since Advocate Jacobus Van Vuurren was indisposed. The advocate appears in the matter on behalf of Mabuza and Dube. Judge Dlamini said the matter was postponed to February 20, 21 and 22, 2024, for oral evidence. Thereafter, on March 6, 2024, the defence would file heads of argument and the Crown file theirs on March 11, 2024. On March 13, 2024, the parties will make oral submissions. The matter was then postponed. It was after the postponement that Mabuza thanked their supporters for always being there for them. He said they had never reneged on what they believed and stood for.


Despite that they were convicted on June 1, 2023, of inciting members of the public to riot against a constitutionally established Eswatini Government, murder and committing terrorist acts, Mabuza said they remained resolute in what they wanted. “Siyabonga kakhulu i-support (thank you so much for the support). We are still in it. We are not shaken,” he said, to the supporters who had gathered near the dock when he addressed them. They included members of the different political parties and other organisations, as well as their relatives. Even though he did not mention what exactly they would not back down from, it is known that Mabuza is one of the former legislators who advocated for an elected prime minister, as opposed to an appointed one.

The former Hosea MP, who was replaced by his younger brother, MP Sifiso, as the representative of Hosea in Parliament, also told their supporters that it was a long journey, but in the end, they would overcome. Those listening to the former MPs seemed to be in agreement with Mabuza. Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) President Sibongile Mazibuko said to the former legislators that there should be no turning back now. “Uyabona nyalo akufaneli kujikwe,” she said. Mazibuko also said Mabuza and Dube should not give in. She concurred with Mabuza that things would eventually be okay.

Mabuza and Dube have been in jail since their arrest on July 26, 2021. They were denied bail by the High Court and were also unsuccessful in the Supreme Court. It has been six months since their conviction on June 1, 2023. The duo has been behind bars for the past 28 months. Before sentencing, Judge Dlamini is first expected to find out whether there were extenuating circumstances in the matter that could warrant her to mete 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. Two months after they were found guilty on all charges, except the COVID-19 charge faced by Mabuza, the pair wrote to the registrar of the High Court. They were calling upon Judge Dlamini to conclude the case.

They sought the intervention of the Chief Justice (CJ), Bheki Maphalala. Their complaint was that they were frustrated by being kept in suspense with regard to their sentencing. They pointed out that they were already serving their sentence. 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. The former MPs wanted the CJ to impress upon Judge Dlamini to conclude their matter. They stated that they were convicted of various crimes, including murder and terrorism. At the time, they said after their conviction, no date was set for mitigation on the sentence.

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