In The News

The BLA-LEC In the News

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On 30 September and 1 October, the Black Lawyers Association Legal Education Center (BLA-LEC) arranged an informative and insightful workshop at the Middelburg Magistrate’s Court. The workshop was primarily targeted at equipping attorneys and advocates with skills aimed at assisting them to successfully run High Court litigation. The workshop was introduced at an apt time, with the opening of the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court and the recent establishment of Circuit Courts, in consultation with the Minister of Justice, in accordance with s 6(7) of the Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013.

The workshop was attended by both attorneys and advocates. The majority of attorneys said they wanted to run their High Court litigation on their own, starting off with unopposed motions and slowly moving to opposed motions and eventually, deal with complex legal matters. The judges who facilitated the workshop encouraged attorneys to adopt this approach and start litigating in the High Court. The workshop assisted attendees, particularly those who are attorneys, with the necessary skills required for litigation in the High Court. It further assisted attendees to understand the behavioral patterns of the judges and to act in accordance with their expectations.

Read more on the De Rebus website

Civil Trial Roll Call In The Gauteng Local Division

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Notice from the Office of the Deputy Judge President.
Published: 10 February 2016
Download here.

Equal pay for equal work

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Gender Equity

According to the principle set out in: Louw v Golden Arrow Bus Services – December 1999

fairness requires that persons doing equal work should receive equal pay

Thus equal pay is a concept based on fairness. In recent times, around the world there has been huge dialogue and various movements on equal pay – for equal work. Largely due to females being remunerated lower pay rates, than their male counterparts, for the same work.

It sounds simple enough, all parties should earn the same amount, for the objectively same type of work Defrenne v Sabena – then why is that females still earn less and not in South Africa alone, but the UK and Germany amongst others with 20 – 22% difference in pay between males and females?

The answer is slightly complex. Let us briefly unpack a few factors contributing towards the wage gap based on gender, and the positive strides governments around the world – especially ours are taking in reducing the gap:

Where a woman lives can make a big difference in how much she earns comparatively

(mashable.com). Additionally, the race and ethnicity of the woman may also contribute to how she is remunerated for her services – this is obviously arbitrary treatment, which goes against not only South Africa’s constitutional values, but also international norms and standards. Article 23(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) provides:

everyone without any discrimination has the right to equal pay, for equal work

.

To show their commitment towards equal pay – for all, the South African government ratified the ILO 100 Convention, Article 2(1) which provides:

each member state shall promote and ensure the application to all workers of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers, for work of equal value

South Africa ratified article 2(1) in Parliament, on the 30th of March 2000.

What then is our current status quo? We have these brilliant, equitable laws and provisions championing equal remuneration based on objective standards. The precedent set in Louw and the amendments to the Employment Equity Act. Sections 6(4) and 6(5) make provision for equal pay for the same work, similar work in addition to work of equal value.

With the above mentioned safety nets provided for by the law, the journey to equal remuneration for all looks feasible and this is promising. (We have provided links Louw and the amendments to EE Act below)

*EE ACT: Click here.

*Louw v Golden Arrow Bus Service (Pty) Ltd (C 37/97) [1999] ZALC 166 (23 November 1999) : Click here.

Gender Equality

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Gender Equity

The South African government is continually committed to the transformation of the historically disadvantaged in the country, more so females in South Africa.

Gender being our theme this month is something that has been given the spotlight in leading news reports, worldwide as of late. South Africa being part of the global world and a forerunner, how are our transformation goals towards achieving gender equality faring?

It is reported that

Gender quotas have made South Africa one of the top places in the world for equality

(Achieving gender equality: we have to actively transform the daily lives of South African women) South Africa ranks 3rd in terms of women representation in Parliament, however the article goes on to state that although South Africa fares well with regard to gender quotas in the political sphere, it doesn’t fare as great in corporate South Africa. One of the reasons why is best expressed by the Committee for Gender Equality (CGE), who still believe that cases of unfair discrimination remain deeply rooted not only in the work place, but also in society.

The South African Constitution makes provision for the (CGE) in section 187. The (CGE) is tasked to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality.

In closing, the gender equality journey is one that must be taken by societies and communities as a whole. This can aid government’s strides on gender equality.

We need to empower women and give society a reason to respect women… there are enough talented women out there, so why single them out?

– Aisha Mohamed

“One man, can change the world” – Nelson Mandela taught us so.

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Nelson Mandela - 1937

We’ve read compelling, inspiring, laudatory stories of the prolific late Nelson Mandela. He is a man whose story needs to be continuously told, over and over. This is our turn, to show our appreciation of the great struggle stalwart.

Born on the 18th of July 1918, in Mvezo the Eastern Cape he would go on to become a global icon, celebrated by many loved and adored by nations. A man of many talents a ward of Jongintaba Dalindyebo, lawyer, boxer, freedom fighter to name but a few. He certainly left behind a legacy.

Brief history bite on Nelson Mandela, he matriculated at a Wesleyan secondary school and read for his Bachelor of Arts degree at Fort Hare University, yet after joining a student protest he was expelled. His leadership traits, and desire for emancipation are evidenced here. He would then take the pilgrimage to Johannesburg in 1941, which bring about much of the interactions of his career and political life. He joined the African National Congress in 1944.

Nelson Mandela

In 1952 he established South Africa’s 1st black law firm, ‘Mandela and Tambo‘ with Oliver Tambo and was able to practice law with a 2 year diploma in law in addition to his BA which he managed to complete.

Much later on proving that life is, indeed all about learning, whilst in prison for his active participation in the struggle for emancipation during South Africa’s Apartheid era at the now infamous ‘Treason Trial’, he eventually obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa in 1989. A very interesting fact that about Nelson Mandela, is that he used an Ethiopian passport for travel purposes.

In 1990 on the 11th of February on a splendidly sunny day, he was released from prison and was immersed and exposed to instant stardom. However he was a man of humble means, and always gave himself tirelessly to the liberation struggle and children’s foundations during his tenure as President of South Africa and post Presidency. He was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President on the 10th of May 1994.

One of his greatest quotes:

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities…

May that quote live within us and our work.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation was established in his honour.

Nelson Mandela

Read more on his life on the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which is a hub of the great man’s life and life’s work here.

Transformation in the Judiciary: Female Judges to be interviewed for top job in S.A’s highest court

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The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has shortlisted four female Judges for a position on the bench of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. The shortlisted candidates are:

  • Justice Zukisa Laura Lumka Tshiqi (Supreme Court of Appeal)
  • Justice Nonkosi Zoliswa Mhlantla (Supreme Court of Appeal)
  • Judge Dhayanithie Pillay (KZN High Court) and
  • Justice Leona Valerie Theron (Supreme Court of Appeal)

The coveted, prominent vacancy in the Constitutional Court was left open when Justice Thembile Skweyiya retired in May last year.

Constitutional Court

For the City Press publication, Journalist, Tabeth Masengu sums it up well in her 5th July article on the interviewees for City Press’s Voices: “The women being interviewed defeat these critics as they prove that black South Africans and women are as competent and capable as the white male counterparts.

Tabeth certainly makes the case for transformation and gender equality in the above quote, these interviews also goes with our gender theme this month and should remain a central theme in our young democracy in attaining and achieving our transformation goals.

Section 174 of the Constitution provides for the “Appointment of Judicial Officers” #KnowYourConstitution, s 174 (2) sets the tone for transformation by providing the following: “the need for the judiciary to reflect broadly the racial and gender composition of South Africa must be considered when judicial officers are appointed.”

All the shortlisted candidates are highly accomplished women in their own right, there are no doubts that the JSC will have a hard time selecting their candidate from this rich, capable pool.

We wish the candidates the best in their interviews, the appointment of a female on the ConCourt’s bench will be a victory for all the women in South Africa and that is well worth celebrating.

First Constitutional Court Judges
First Constitutional Court Judges – Source: Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution

Great responsibility of continuously inspiring

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The world can be seen in a different, a most interesting light – through the perspective of the youth. It is therefore a great privilege for the Legal Education Centre, to introduce this month’s guest interviewee.

Introducing Mr Nape Masipa. A young man who chairs the Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter, and is reading for his LLB degree. Here are his thoughts.

BLA-LEC: Why did you choose to pursue Law?

Nape Masipa:

As a 9 year old I received Nelson Mandela’s autobiography “Long walk to freedom” as a gift from a family member, upon discovering that the great man Mr Nelson Mandela was a Legal Practitioner, I was determined to also follow suit and become a lawyer, I never thought of any other field of study. The law empowers one’s thinking and ability to challenge societal problems, nothing signified this more than Mr Nelson Mandela’s excellent defence of black domestic workers during apartheid, he gave them dignity and hope in times of great distress. So I hope to also give people dignity and hope as a lawyer.

BLA-LEC: Is there any case/legal dispute, in your career as a student that has lingered with you post assessment?

Nape Masipa:

It was during my vacation work at a local law firm in Polokwane, I has handed a file wherein had to do a liquidation and distribution of a deceased’s estate. During the process it became apparent that the deceased’s estate did not have much assets however the widow had exorbitantly spent large amounts of money for the funeral expenses, since the deceased’s estate has “to pay for its own funeral expenses”, I had the painstaking task of informing the widow that we might have to sell the house to balance it out. It was very sad because with a bit of education to our people about the technicalities of the law they will be in a better position to receive better legal services, I think this lingered on in me because whenever I am sitting with people in general I always end up telling them about the various fields of law and how they can avoid similar problems. At the end of the day we are trained to serve the people.

BLA-LEC: What do you think is the greatest challenge facing South African youth in 2015? And how can it be addressed?

Nape Masipa:

I think the lack of opportunities all round, year in and year out there are large amounts of young people who have passed well that cannot get into institutions of Higher Learning, many young people graduate but still cannot get employment (which you ask yourself, how worse is the situation for people without academic qualifications), and our country does not embrace innovation because young people with brilliant new ideas will more often than not struggle to get funding and all round support to get those ideas off the ground, we must ask ourselves if our country can produce a Mark Zuckerburg. It is not that we are incapable of producing thinkers, Elon Musk is a prime example, he is South African born and he lived here until his late teens and he is now coming up revolutionary ideas to solve energy shortages across the globe, what does our country not have to entice young thinkers like this to remain in the country and develop from here?

BLA-LEC: The term ‘role-model’ embodies what to you?

Nape Masipa:

It is such a broad concept, but I’ll refer you to my earlier answer as to what inspired me to study law, Mr Nelson Mandela. He is someone whose attributes, behaviour, success and way of thinking that I want to emulate, so the term “role model” means just that to me. You must carry yourself in a manner that inspires people to be like you. This is especially very difficult for young black males in this country because we grow up not seeing enough male role models, so the onus is on this generation to produce its own Mandelas, Tambos, Motsepes etc. for the next generation.

Nape Masipa

BLA-LEC: Are you somebody’s role-model?

Nape Masipa:

Yes, the township that I come from not much people make to University, so I inspire young people that it is possible, they must believe in their dreams regardless of their backgrounds. At University I do have young people that I have taken under my wing, especially with the work I do for the Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter. I did not know how to react when someone once told me that I inspire them, obviously it felt good but along with it came the great responsibility of continuously inspiring this person and many others.

BLA-LEC: Describe the BLA in a sentence.

Nape Masipa:

The voice of black lawyers in the Republic of South Africa

BLA-LEC: Describe the BLA-LEC in a sentence.

Nape Masipa:

An institution dedicated to improving legal education in the Republic of South Africa

BLA-LEC: What are your thoughts on Legal Transformation in South Africa?

Nape Masipa:

I honestly feel like little has been done, I mean you must just look at the briefing patterns issue in this country and how black legal practitioner are marginalised against. Look at the
fact that we still do not have big black law firms in this country, on a gender perspective there are still a few numbers of female legal practitioners that are in practice well into their 40s. At an education level the LLB curriculum is still not yet uniform across the Republic, previously Bantu Universities do not have professors at their institutions as compared to the previously white institutions, and this perpetuates the dire situation of the previously white institutions having a stronghold on the profession itself. When Black law graduates are hired at big law firms, they are sometimes used as fronts (i.e. window dressing purposes) and they eventually get frustrated because they would have not received the same exposure as their white counterparts. These are serious issues that the stakeholders of the profession are failing to address or to be more cynical, they are refusing to address.

BLA-LEC: To date, what are your greatest achievements?

Nape Masipa:

I think to date my greatest achievement has to be being elected by law students from various Universities to serve as the National President of the Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter, it is a humbling experience to be tasked with this responsibility. The work that has been done by ourselves as the 2014/15 National Executive Committee also qualifies as an achievement, and our collective achievement means much more than any individual accolades because that means we are moving with unity as team. We have taken the organization to a new and exciting level and our aim is to leave behind a fertile ground for our successors.

BLA-LEC: The greatest book you’ve ever read is…?

Nape Masipa:

“I write what I like” by Steve Bantu Biko

Legal Transformation Goals

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Minister Michael Masutha announced plans to the legislative framework to promote the usage of indigenous languages in court proceedings (published May 20th 2015). Read more.

The government released a discussion paper on the transformation of the legal profession, in the paper a few noteworthy points are highlighted. Namely:

  • Disadvantaged law graduates experience difficulty in entering the legal profession
    And establishing themselves as successful practitioners
  • Broad middle class of the South African society although not indigent, cannot afford the fees which practitioners charge.
  • The discussion paper goes on to raise the point that, the goal of transformation must be envisaged through, inter alia a legal profession which represents diversity of the South African society.

You can read up more on the discussion paper, and assess the points it raises as to why transformation in the legal profession is needed and the solutions it proposes, here: Read more.

With issues as those raised above, which some are a direct result of the education policies effected by the pre-democratic South African government, one can see that for transformation goals to be effected, it will take a collective effort.

The proposition of promoting the use of indigenous languages in court proceedings may be a step in the right direction, albeit still a framework which is in the works and not yet implemented – it sounds like a good plan. But the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa itself does promote the goals of a transformative society, perhaps given enough support structures and skills redistribution to the previously disadvantaged communities, the tide against an unbalanced legal profession can be decreased.

This shortage of skills within the legal profession prompted the legal education centre, to not only offer legal educative training programs – but also launch law clinics around South Africa (insert link). The goal of the legal education centre is to equip black legal professions, from historically disadvantaged parts of South Africa with the requisite legal skills in order for them to function, operate and thrive in the legal profession.

The above discussion is only a brief note on where transformation in terms of the legal profession is, with added insight from the legal discussion paper from the Department of Justice. There are undoubtedly more factors and issues at play, yet it is hoped that initiatives such as what Minister Masutha is proposing may be implemented to address the minimal transformation within the profession.

We will keep you posted on updates.

The LLB read with a compulsory African language

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The LLB read with a compulsory African language, proposed.

There is an ongoing debate regarding the medium of instruction at tertiary level, the proposition of students being taught in their mother tongue, and specifically as laid out by the Minister of Justice, Mr Michael Masutha: the introduction of a compulsory African language. Read more.

Yet how would this fare, and how would this great feat be implemented around South Africa? The abovementioned serves again, for robust debate. The Minister, in a Herald report (see link above) announced plans to investigate the legislative framework, to promote the use of indigenous languages in court, additionally he has indicated that he will continue to urge universities to include indigenous languages as part of their curriculum.

In the discussion paper on the transformation of the legal profession, prepared by the DoJ, one of the main challenges laid out was: “the need to make the legal profession representative of the diversity of South African Society” Read more.

One way of addressing the diversity gap, would be the promotion and introduction of indigenous languages in court proceedings – this is what the Minister is proposing. For now, the idea of an LLB degree read with an African language is still a mere idea of paper, perhaps let us eagerly wait for the Minister’s findings within the legislative framework for the way forward. The 1996 Constitution of South Africa makes provision for both higher learning and recognition of languages, sections 6; 29 and 30 respectively. South Africa has 11 official languages.

We will be updating our readers on the progress of this project as it goes.

We Are Not Deterred” – A Prison Letter From Swazi Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko On The One Year Anniversary Of His Detention

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Photo via @thulanirmaseko

Due to the publication of the below letter on March 17th, Thulani Maseko has been forcefully moved to solitary confinement for three weeks and denied visitors. Revealed earlier today when Thulani’s lawyer, Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, attempted to make a routine visit, he reported the following: What do you think?

“Kindly take notice that the Big Bend prison authorities have condemned Thulani Maseko to solitary confinement for a period of three weeks starting from today Thursday March 19, 2015. While the prison officials were reluctant with the information they cite Maseko’s continual writings whilst incarcerated as a violation of the prison code [Ed. note: no such prison code exists] and the reason for solitary confinement punishment. When I inquired as to the effects of the sentence; I was informed that he will forfeit some privileges i.e. visitations. This means that for three weeks his relatives and legal team won’t be able to see him. The prison authorities were reluctant with the information citing that it was all an internal process.”What do you think?

Remarking on the abrupt developments, Jeffrey Smith of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights urged those concerned to sign this petition and suggested taking to social media, using the hashtag #SwaziJustice, to help raise awareness of this brazen crackdown on Thulani’s basic human rights.

Introduction by Jeffrey Smith: What do you think?

My friend Thulani Maseko is one of the most courageous human beings I have ever met. He is an unflinching iconoclast in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy and the continent’s most quietly repressive nation. Thulani has fearlessly campaigned to highlight the inherent deficiencies of the Tinkhundla system of governance, which vests undue power in the hands of one man: King Mswati III, who assumed power at the age of 18, following the death of his father, and previous king, Sobhuza II.

A year ago today, Thulani and Bheki Makhubu, a veteran magazine editor, were each sentenced to two years in prison for writing, and then publishing, articles that were critical of Swaziland’s undeniably rotten judicial system. Thulani has remained steadfast and brave, despite the clear, and still ongoing, miscarriages of justice against him, which include a farcical sedition trial slated for this summer. What do you think?

During a break in an appeal hearing last November, Thulani and I made eye contact and he motioned for me to join him near a cordoned off area of the courtroom, where he was guarded by several stern-faced officers at all times. At his feet lay the iron leg shackles used to escort him to and from the court, which is perched atop a picturesque hillside in Swaziland’s capital, Mbabane. Thulani put his arm around my shoulder, saying: “Jeff, come here and stand with me. I mustn’t forget how to smile.” What do you think?

Thulani surely smiles, and is given strength, when he knows the world is watching, when his lawyer and his family members, when they are permitted to visit, inform him that the struggle to uplift ordinary Swazis — those whose basic human rights continue to be crushed with impunity — has not been in vain or in isolation. Let’s keep our friend Thulani smiling. And let his profound words below, written from a dark prison cell in a remote corner of Swaziland, inspire you to action. Join us in the campaign for SwaziJustice today. What do you think?

Jeffrey Smith
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
A Letter Of Appreciation To The World’s Human Family For The Solidarity With Our Just Cause
-By Thulani Rudolf Maseko

The biblical Joseph is recorded in scripture as having said that, “You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good.” And John C. Maxwell tells us “Joseph waited 14 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.” The bible has many men who spent time in prison on the orders of the rulers and kings of those times.What do you think?

Surely, yes surely, our captors, the architects and proponents of Swaziland’s oppressive Tinkhundla regime, harbor intentions to hurt us so that we submit to their evil desires. And there is some good that has been the result of our persecution. Tinkhundla denialists, cynics, and prophets of doom do not accept it, but there can be no question that our conviction and prison sentence sharply drew the world’s focus to Swaziland in a manner unprecedented in recent times. In the light of the above scripture, this is the good God had intended, for he is the God of freedom, justice and equality. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and daughter Mpho Tutu remind us that, “God has a profound reverence for our freedom. I often say that God would rather we go freely to hell than we be compelled to enter heaven.” Tinkhundla, has for so long, denied us our God-given fundamental human rights and basic freedoms and civil liberties. We seek to retain these, our rights and freedoms, no matter what price we have to pay. We shall never surrender.1

There is yet another prisoner who spent 27 years in jail for his beliefs. This is the prisoner, in respect of whom, President Barack Obama said: “To the people of South Africa, people of every race and walk of life, the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us.” Speaking for all of us, President Obama continued: “His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life and your freedom. Your democracy is his cherished legacy.” How beautiful these words! Although on different conditions and circumstances, Mandela’s ideals are our ideals too.


Thulani Maseko and his son on second day of appeal hearing in Swaziland’s Supreme Court
(Photo: Jeffrey Smith)

In the context of those of us who are doing time in jail for what we believe in, the same ideals that drove Mandela, what better person is there to inspire, us if not Madiba himself? We know that those who have thrown us in jail are determined to do so in the future, and that they have acted out of prejudice. They have intended to hurt us, to break our spirit, our moral strength and crash our resilience so that we succumb to their evil desires. But we derive strength knowing that the world has stood, and continues to stand, with us and by us.What do you think?

Prison is indeed meant to crush us because the conditions are horrendous. As Mandela said in 1967, we say so in 2015, from the king’s prison in Swaziland that for instance, “no pillows are provided and we forced to use other articles…as pillows.” Not only are we denied proper bedding such as pillows and bedding sheets, we do not “have the right to sleep in pyjamas.” One is forced to either to “sleep naked with only blankets as a cover,” or sleep in one’s own prison garments, turned inside out, to keep them neat and clean.What do you think?

Over and above this, we must put up with sleeping on the floor and use tiny canvas mats. To spice it all, prison life is routine, including the meals of cabbage, beans and a very small piece of chicken. Just as much as the barbaric and oppressive Tinkhundla regime seeks to deny and deprive us of our value as full human beings, it is absolutely correct that “prison and the authorities conspire to rob each man of his dignity. Prison not only robs you of your freedom, it attempts to take away your identity.”What do you think?

So, while we fight the many injustices and indignities of Tinkhundla outside these prison walls, we have almost similar battles to fight in prison. And the early campaigners of human rights, freedom and democracy on whose footsteps we follow were right that prison, for all intents and purposes, is a minor image of the bigger system outside.1

In spite of the prison hardships, we are not deterred. We are not discouraged. We are not fazed. We are not shaken. We are not intimidated. Yes, we are not broken.1

While President Obama spoke well for all of us in thanking South Africa for sharing Madiba with the world, we are also grateful for the life of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Here is a leader who said: “Nobody with any sense likes to go to jail. But if he puts you in jail, you go in that jail and transform it from a dungeon of shame to a haven of freedom and human dignity.” And he goes on to say,” and even when he tries to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there are some things so dear, some things so priceless, some things so externally true that they are worth dying for.” This is the man who tells us that, “and I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”What do you think?

Please allow us to say that we are in prison because we are very fit to live. We are not ashamed, for there is nothing to be ashamed of for standing up for what is right, what is high, what is noble. There is nothing to be ashamed of for standing up for good against an evil system. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of for standing up for something great. We are not broken because these, our teachers, these our mentors, tell us that if some ideals are worth living for, then they are equally worth sacrificing for, and if need be, are worth dying for.


Jeffrey Smith & Thulani Maseko at Maseko’s appeal hearing in Swaziland’s Supreme Court on Novemer 4, 2014

As we draw to a conclusion, it pains us to hear the leaders of our country raising a hullaballoo about “enemies of the country,” people who “tarnish the image of the country,” and the “jealous people.” We want to say that the true and real enemies of Swaziland, and its people, are those who are opposed to democracy. The true enemies of Swaziland, and its people, are those who undermine the rule of law. The true jealous people are those who continue to trample, suppress and abuse the fundamental human rights and basic freedoms and civil liberties of the rank and file of our people. Those who say we attack and condemn the country are completely missing the point, are misguided and misdirected.What do you think?

Swaziland, our country, is a tiny and beautiful land. Its people are humble, equally beautiful and equally hospitable. It is the Tinkhundla system that has an image problem. And this distinction is important. If Tinkhundla, as a system of government has any image at all, it has an image of oppression, and it only has itself to blame.What do you think?

You see, Tinkhundla must realize that, at best, it is like a Christian who refuses to accept that all have sinned and are in need of the grace of God. At worst, Tinkhundla, by its very nature and character, is like a man, or a drunken man, who looks at himself in the mirror and sees how horrible he looks and then says, “O, this is not me.” Such a man begins to point a figure and accuses his children and his neighbours for his own self-created bad image. Accordingly, for as long as Tinkhundla and the leadership of our country remain recalcitrant and intransigent about change, we have a right, responsibly and obligation to name and shame it until it succumbs to the demand for democratization.What do you think?

In closing, the Tinkhundla leaders, its supporters, its fans and proponents, may call us whatever names they choose. They shall never conquer our spirits. They may keep us in jail as much as they please, but they can never arrest our ideas. So, in the final analysis, Madiba who inspires us right here in prison, is right when he says: “It is only my flesh and bones that are shut up behind these tight walls. Otherwise, I remain cosmopolitan in my outlook; in my thoughts I am as free as a felon.”What do you think?

Since that fateful day on March 17, 2014 the failure of leadership in our country has been proved beyond any shadow of doubt that Tinkhundla has dismally failed. We need to unite around a discussion table to negotiate the birth of a new democratic society, a new and democratic Swaziland. In the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi, we seriously believe in the righteousness of our cause.What do you think?

We are short of sweet and beautiful words to express thanks to the thousands around the world who have supported us. We cannot be more grateful. The great mentor speaks for us when he says, “We shall never forget how millions around the world joined us in solidarity to fight the injustice of our oppression while we were incarcerated.” Indeed, we draw strength and sustenance from the knowledge that we are part of a greater humanity.What do you think?

Writing from a narrow prison cell to the church of the Philippians, the charismatic Paul said: “I think of you…because of the way in which you have helped me…you are always in my heart.” From prison, we adopt Paul’s words as ours and say: Thank you, thank you, and thank you. God bless you.

Yours sincerely,
Thulani Rudolf Maseko
Prisoner 579/2014
His Majesty’s Big Bend Prison
Lubombo, Swaziland