MANZINI – Thulani Maseko, a renowned opposition politician and human rights lawyer in Eswatini was shot and killed at his house on Sunday, as the country’s absolute monarchy threatened activists hours earlier.
According to opposition spokesman Sikelela Dlamini, Maseko was shot dead by unidentified assailants on Saturday night in Luhleko, around 50 kilometers from the capital Mbabane.
When he was inside the home with his family, “assassins shot him through the window,” according to Dlamini who was quoted by AFP.
“Details are still scant (and), owing to the trauma his family members are undergoing, they are not yet ready to speak,” he added.
Maseko, a well-known human rights advocate and newspaper columnist in Eswatini, was engaged in a legal dispute with King Mswati III on the monarch’s decision to rename the nation Eswatini by decree.
In 2018, to commemorate the nation’s 50th anniversary of gaining independence from Britain, Swaziland’s name was changed to Eswatini.
Maseko argued, however, that the king violated the constitution in the process.
His passing occurs only a few hours after the king issued a challenge to those trying to overthrow Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
“People shouldn’t moan and whine about mercenaries killing them,” King Mswati had remarked.
“These people started the violence first but when the state institutes a crackdown on them for their actions, they make a lot of noise blaming King Mswati for bringing in mercenaries.”– King Mswati III (Kingdom of Eswatini)
The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said last week that the king had used mercenaries, primarily white Afrikaners from the neighboring South African nation, to assist Eswatini’s security forces in quelling growing discontent with his harsh rule.
However, Alpheous Nxumalo, a government spokesman, claimed that “no hitmen have been hired.”
King Mswati, who has governed since 1986, is frequently accused of violating human rights by those opposed to his rule.