Swazi policemen challenge the law

By Time of article published Nov 29, 2002

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Mbabane - Royal Swaziland Police Commissioner Edgar Hillary has defied a court order that he be jailed for contempt of court and has challenged any police officer to try to arrest him.

The Swaziland High Court found Hillary guilty of defying repeated court orders to allow a group of evicted people to return to their homes at the villages of Macetjeni and KaMkweli.

Hillary was charged along with Lubombo regional police commander Agrippa Khumalo.

The saga started two years ago when Swaziland's King Mswati appointed a new chief, Prince Maguga, to the area where the villagers lived. Two acting chiefs in the area refused to pay Maguga any allegiance, and the situation devolved into bloody fights between pro- and anti-Maguga factions. Eventually the police were called in to restore order and to force the rebels to leave the villages.

The rebels were later offered the opportunity to go back, on condition that they recognised the new chief. They refused, and successfully applied for a court order to allow them to return.

Despite the order, the police would not allow them to go home, claiming that more bloodshed would result.

Appearing in court for defying the order, Hillary and Khumalo defended their action by arguing that they were in an impossible situation, being required to support the new chief appointed by the king and simultaneously to obey a contradictory order issued by the court. - Sapa

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