Mbabane - Swazi policemen were sent out on Sunday to buy up all copies of the Sunday Times with its claims that King Mswati III's fifth wife, Inkhosikati LaMagwaza, had had an affair with a South African man.

The reports came as the country celebrated the annual Reed Dance, its 35th independence anniversary and the king's birthday.

The paper was sold out and people were moving from shop to shop in search of it.

The report quotes claims by Soweto man Lizo Shabangu, 23, that he had an affair with LaMagwaza which she ended when he wanted her to elope with him.

Shabangu was quoted as saying: "I spent a whole week and a half in her room... where we would wear nothing and we showered together... ate strawberries and yoghurt off each other."

He claimed, according to the paper, that they had sex six times a day.

A source at Mswati's Lozitha Palace, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mswati had been briefed on the report and the pictures after a dinner to mark his 35th birthday.

"He became so upset and drove to Siteki with his bodyguard immediately after the banquet," the source said.

"Everything is out of his hands - the traditional authorities, mainly his elder brothers, are handling the matter."

The source said there were several options of possible punishment for the woman.

"The most obvious would be to send her away, ending the marriage to Mswati. Of course the children would be left behind as a sign of acknowledgement that they belong to royalty.

"The pictures do not lie, so the king will certainly not want anything to do with her," he added.

LaMagwaza, 30, denied the affair but the source claimed that the butterfly tattoo on her lower spine in one of the pictures in the newspaper was indeed her art signature.

"It appears on all her works," he said.

The Sunday Times quoted her as confirming that the photographs were of her. She was quoted as saying that Shabangu came to her looking for a scholarship.

"I took him in and we worked on art together."

On Sunday a former member of the Swazi parliament, Marwick Khumalo, a close confidante of the king, tore up a copy of the Times at a shopping mall and claimed the story was a fabrication.

Khumalo, a former journalist, attracted a lot of attention when he dismissed the pictures as being computer-generated.

Back at the palace, LaMagwaza's bodyguards was willing to say where she was and she was absent from the weekend's festivities.

Rumours about Mswati's wives being involved in extra-marital affairs have persisted in Swaziland. - Independent Foreign Service