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UN rights chief urges ‘impartial’ probe after Eswatini killing

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The United Nations human rights chief has called on Eswatini to swiftly and impartially investigate the brutal killing of prominent opposition politician and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko.

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“Thulani Maseko was a stalwart of human rights who, at great risk to himself, spoke up for many who couldn’t speak up for themselves,” Volker Turk said in a statement on Monday.

“His cold-blooded killing has deprived Eswatini, southern Africa and the world of a true champion and advocate for peace, democracy and human rights.”

Maseko was shot through the window while he was inside with his family, the spokesman said.

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In his statement, Turk called on the Eswatini authorities “to ensure a prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigation is held into his killing… and to hold all those responsible to account in fair trials”.

Maseko, a leading human rights lawyer and columnist, was the founder of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF) – a coalition of opposition parties, associations and churchesIn 2014, he was jailed for contempt of court over articles critical of the government and judiciary, but was acquitted on appeal and released a year later.

And he had a pending court battle with King Mswati III over the monarch’s decision to rename the country Eswatini by decree.

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The country’s name was changed from Swaziland to Eswatini to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain in 2018.

Maseko’s position was that the king had not followed the constitution in the process.

And at the time of his death, he was the legal re presentative for two members of parliament facing trial for offences allegedly committed during the civil unrest that rocked Eswatini in 2021, according to the UN rights office.

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Maseko’s death came just hours after the king challenged activists fighting to end Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

“People should not shed tears and complain about mercenaries killing them,” King Mswati had said.

In addition to calling for an investigation of Maseko’s death, Turk demanded on Monday that the Eswatini authorities “ensure the safety and security of all Eswatini people, including human rights defenders, journalists and political activists and protect civic space”.

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Meanwhile, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has bemoaned the death of Maseko, denouncing murders Africa as a breeding ground for murders and violence following the killing of Swaziland human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko.

“My sincere condolences to Eswatini and Thulani Maseko’s family.

“A leading Swaziland human rights lawyer and pro-democracy activist was shot dead at his house and died on the spot. Africa cannot be a breeding ground for murders and violence.

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“Cowards and rogues cannot stand good men. Rest In Peace comrade,” Chamisa tweeted.

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa director Siphosami Malunga also denounced the gruesome murder of Maseko.. 

“Bambulele! They killed him!” he said. 

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“But not his ideas, not his passion, Not his desire for freedom and democracy for his country and people! 

” That they have turned into a raging force which will consume them… one day soon, they will face justice for this cowardly crime… “TRT World /VicFallsLive 

 

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Thieves target solar panels for Victoria Falls’ rural community gardens

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BY BRENDA NCUBE 

Villagers living in the outskirts of Victoria Falls have been left counting losses after eight suspected thieves broke into  their community nutrition gardens and stole solar panels on Saturday last week. 

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According to the area councillors, the thieves separately stole at least nine solar panels  in  Mashala, Change and Mpongola wards and vandalised some. 

According to Marvelous Mhlanga, one of the farmers from Mashala, the suspects firstly attempted to steal a pump and an inverter but failed, before opting to vandalise the solar panels. 

Pascar Mpofu, a  councillor for Mashala ward said because of the disruptions, villagers are no longer able to water their gardens, posing a risk to many whose source of livelihoods is in farming.

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“All gardening activities have stopped as the only source of water for domestic use and gardening has been cut,” he said. 

The solar pumps were installed several years ago by World Vision in a bid to make Hwange villages self-sufficient and have since become the source of livelihood for the community.

For villagers such as Mhlanga, the garden produce could suffice their families and could manage to send their children to school through wholesaling green paper, green beans, carrots and sugar beans as far as Hwange urban. 

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“Now we are at a loss and not sure how to survive as we are already fetching water for domestic use from the streams,”Mhlanga said. 

” We are hoping that the rains will be enough for our crops to ripen, but we don’t know what the future holds. ” she added.

Mpofu said that the solar panels will need to be replaced in time to resume gardening activities and the community is in the process of mobilising a neighborhood watch to safeguard the premises.

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“We believe that the thieves are locals working with outsiders,” said Mpofu 

He further revealed that the suspects have been caught and are in police custody for questioning.

Meanwhile, several solar panels have also been  stolen from boreholes dotted around Hwange National Park, Kazuma Pan National Park and the Zambezi National Park by suspected thieves from neighbouring Zambia.

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Trevor Lane, whose Bhejane Trust has been leading in the mobilisation of funds to drill boreholes and install solar panels to power the pumps at the three game parks, said the theft of solar panels intensified during Covid-19 lockdowns.

 

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Bloody festive as 148 perish in road traffic accidents

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BY BRENDA NCUBE 

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has revealed that a total of 148 people perished in road traffic accidents during the festive season, with 669 sustaining serious injuries. 

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ZRP revealed this on Monday in a statement, adding that the road traffic accidents totalled 2723, with 108 fatal accidents recorded and 669 injuries. 

The review was from December 15 2022 up to January 15. 

According to ZRP, the number of accidents for the same period was however a bit higher, between December 15 2021 and January 15 2022 at 2 741 previously compared to 2 723 reported this time. 

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The number of deaths rose from 138 to 148. 

For the safety of all road users, the ZRP implored drivers to safeguard lives by exercising caution and safety standards, especially during this rainy season as some roads are slippery and in a bad state.

Public service vehicle operators were also urged to “adhere to speed limits on the country’s roads and stop engaging in highway races while competing for passengers.

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The public was also encouraged to report errant drivers on the roads to any nearest police station or call the National Complaints Desk number 0242 703631 or WhatsApp on 0712 800 197.

Police said they will continue to road rules and regulations without fear or favour. 

 

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Shock as 18-months-old baby drowns in a pool in Binga

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BY LWANDLE MTHUNZI

A family from Bulawayo’s Warringham plots has been thrown into mourning after its 18-months old child drowned in a pool in Binga.

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The boy, Adrin Phiri had visited his grandmother Abigail Mguni in Tinde area under Chief Pashu when he disappeared from home around midday only for his lifeless body to be found in a 1.5 metre deep pool three hours later.

Police said the incident happened on Friday last week.

The matter was treated as sudden death by drowning.

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“On the 18th day of January 2023 Adrin Phiri aged 18 months of Plot 70 Warringham in Bulawayo and his grandmother Abigirl Mguni visited their relatives in Tinde under Chief Pashu. On 20 January at around 12 noon

Adrin was playing outside with his two cousins aged three years and five years,” said the police.

It is alleged that Adrin left the homestead and exited through the gate with no one noticing.

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He proceeded to the main road which is a few metres from the homestead.

Moments later, his grandmother discovered that he was no longer with his cousins and looked for him.

After failing to locate him, the grandmother and some relatives and neighbours launched a search but to no avail.

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At about 3pm, two juveniles saw the body stuck in mud in a pool about 20 metres away from the homestead.

A report was made to the police who attended the scene and have urged members of the public to monitor children and also to be wary of water bodies especially during the rainy season.

 

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