- Only one week after Swaziland's new constitution came into effect, authorities again are going after independently minded journalists. The kingdom's new constitution for the first time guarantees press freedom, but this did not stop zealous state officials from detaining two journalists.
On 16 February, two journalists with the 'Times of Swaziland' were attacked, detained and had their equipment confiscated by authorities of a handicraft training centre while on assignment, the Windhoek-based Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) reported today.
Reporter Phinda Sihlongonyane, who is also the Secretary-General of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ), and photojournalist Albert Masango had gone to cover a story at the National Handicraft Training Centre at Ezulwini, just outside the Swazi capital, Mbabane.
"Lecturers at the training centre accused the journalists of trespassing and manhandled them," MISA reports today. "In the process, the lecturers forcefully took the journalists' equipment which included a notebook and digital camera," the press freedom group adds.
The journalists were then dragged to the institution's library where they were interrogated and threatened with further violence. The journalists tried in vain to explain their mission at the training centre.
Reporter Sihlongonyane managed to summon the police. Only upon the arrival and insistence of the law enforcement officers, did the lecturers agree to set the journalists free and return their equipment, according to MISA.
The Swaziland national chapter of has condemned the harassment of the journalists. MISA Swaziland further appealed to the public and authorities to respect the work of journalists, "particularly now that media freedom is guaranteed under Swaziland's new constitution," the group said. The new constitution came into effect on 8 February.
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