The Swaziland Editors’ Forum has expressed it support for Bheki Mabhuza, the editor of the Nation magazine, who has been convicted of ‘scandalising the court’ because he criticised the Swazi judiciary.
Mabhuza was fined E200,000 (US$22,000) by the High Court and told if he did not pay within three days he would immediately go to jail for two years. His sentence is on hold pending an appeal to the Swaziland Supreme Court.
In a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day (3 May 2013), the Swaziland Editors’ Forum said, ‘It is sad to say that this incident which sent waves of anger across the world will have a chilling effect on the press and on freedom of expression.
‘We do not believe that criticism of the judiciary should be a crime. We believe the public should respect and hold the judiciary in esteem for what it represents, not because of the fear is inspires in the public.
‘We are also shocked at the implications if the judiciary, a public institution, finds it necessary to protect its dignity with the fear with such severe consequences.
‘For the record, Makhubu is a member of our Forum, and the Editors of Swaziland stand beside him at this most challenging time.’
PRESS FREEDOM AND THE NATION