Suspected of having an affair with the King of Swaziland's twelfth wife, Justice Minister Ndumiso Mamba was forced to resign from his post in early August. The government attempted to keep the story under wraps but then these compromising - and rather funny - photos have emerged on the Net.
The photos were posted on the City Press web site [a South African daily that is distributed in Swaziland] on August 8th, and have recently been picked up by several blogs and media sites. According to City Press, they show Mamba being arrested at the Royal Villas hotel, a luxury complex outside Mbabane, the Swazi capital. He and Queen Nothando Dube, one of the King's 14 wives, allegedly met there on a regular basis.
The arrest, reportedly ordered by the King, occurred on July 27th during a military raid specially dispatched to catch the adulterous couple red-handed. Trapped, the government minister reportedly slit a hole in the bed and attempted to hide in its base.
Although Swazi police deny Mamba was ever arrested, several South African media organisations report that he is currently in jail to prevent him fleeing the country with his considerable assets. Queen Dube, a mother of two, is reportedly under house arrest.
King Mswati III, aged 42, is famous for his polygamy. Each year, he picks a wife during a special ceremony which gathers all the young virgins in the kingdom. The vigorous monarch, who is father to 23 children, rules over his small kingdom wedged between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique with an iron fist. While the royal family and its entourage lead a luxurious lifestyle, the vast majority of the Swazi population, 40% of which has HIV Aids, lives in poverty. There are no authorised political parties in the country.
Richard Rooney is a former journalism and communications professor at the university of Swaziland. He lives in Cyprus and writes the blog Swazi Media Commentary.
The City Press newspaper first broke the sex scandal story in Swaziland. Very quickly, reports emerged in the African media that the paper had been banned from the kingdom – but only ‘unofficially’. Swaziland security forces were apparently instructed to buy all copies of the City Press that were on sale in the country.
Man arrested for photocopying City Press
On August 11, the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported that a man called Sibusiso Mhlanga (allegedly a member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), which has been branded a “terrorist entity” by the Prime Minister) was arrested in Manzini as he tried to get a photocopy of an issue of City Press.
On August 11, the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported that a man called Sibusiso Mhlanga [allegedly a member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), which has been branded a "terrorist entity" by authorities] was arrested in Manzini as he tried to make a photocopy of an issue of City Press.
Media in Swaziland have been banned from reporting the scandal, but South African newspapers and Internet sites all over the world have published news and comment on their alleged adultery. City Press was the first media outlet to obtain the photos of the minister hiding in the hotel mattress.
One senator, Ndileka Dlamini, rather sinisterly called on the Swazi Government to ‘deal’ with any local reporter found to be leaking ‘sensitive news’. Other senators have also said social networks like Facebook needed to be "controlled" because they were being "abused". The government is reportedly looking at laws to control cyberspace. I flatter myself that I am one of the culprits complained of. So in the spirit of freedom of the media, I invite any Swaziland senator to defend their position on the Swazi Media Commentary Facebook site. Senators just "click here".
No matter how hard it tries, the Swaziland state has not been able to keep a lid on the Royal Family sex scandal and what it says about King Mswati and the way he oppresses the Swazi people."