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Eswatini Human Rights Lawyers Says He Lives in Fear

Legislative elections held in Eswatini on Friday are unlikely to change the country’s political landscape.

As Africa’s last absolute monarchy, parliament only has an advisory role, and those who go against king do so at their peril.

This is something human rights lawyer, Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, knows well. His mentor, Thulani Maseko, was murdered in cold blood in front of his family in January as they watched a football match.

“When you see a threat to a fellow person that you know, then it means that it is also a direct threat on you,” said Nhlabatsi.

“I’ve worked with Mr Maseko for a very long period of time. He was my brother, he was my mentor so, if someone comes and butchers him in front of his wife and children, that’s a direct threat or attack on me.”

While the of the prominent pro-democracy lawyer shocked the world, there are yet to be any arrests.

Just hours before Maseko died, King Mswati III, warned activists who defied him not to “shed tears” about “mercenaries killing them”.

“Each day we’re living in fear because you don’t know what is going to happen next,” said Nhlabatsi.

“Maybe they want to calm the storms then go to their next target. You just live for each day and let it pass so you can live the next or the following day.”

At the time of his death, Maseko was leading a broad coalition of political and civic rights and religious groups created to foster dialogue with the king.

Now Nhlabatsi has taken over the dangerous job of defending the country’s pro-democracy activists.

The United Nations has called for an independent investigation into Maseko’s death.

In 2021, Eswatini was shaken by pro-democracy protests, and dozens of people were killed in the subsequent crackdown by the security forces, triggering a political crisis.

Two opposition lawmakers elected in the last vote in 2018 are now in jail. A third is in exile.

Source: Africanews