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Journalist attacked, threatened with death

(MISA/IFEX) - On 26 December 2008, Ackel Zwane, a news editor for the privately-owned newspaper "The Swazi Observer", was attacked by a knife-wielding man who managed to cut him once, claiming that the journalist wrote negatively about his father, a well-known church bishop in Swaziland.

Narrating his ordeal, Zwane said he was buying meat from a butcher in the outskirts of Manzini, the second largest city in Swaziland, when his attacker emerged from nowhere and charged at him. He said as the man charged at him, he also verbally assaulted him, shouting obscenities about the news editor for writing negatively about his father.

Zwane was punched three times in the face. The attacker then drew a knife and threatened to "finish him off." However, the journalist ducked as his attacker tried to stab him. He escaped with a cut above the ear. The journalist was pelted with stones onlookers helped him into a car in which he locked himself for safety.

"It was the worst experience of my life," Zwane told MISA-Swaziland.

He said his attacker boasted that Zwane would do nothing about the incident as the man claimed his wife was a police officer and the case would "die a natural death."

But Zwane went on to report the matter to the police. The man later handed himself over to the police in the company of his father, who is bishop of the Devine Healing Ministries, a popular church in Swaziland. The man was formally charged but not booked in. He appeared in court on 29 December where he was not allowed to enter a plea and the case was postponed to March 2009.

MISA-Swaziland issued a statement condemning the attack on the journalist and has been giving support to Zwane. The chapter will follow this case closely. Zwane's attacker is well-known for violent behaviour. Coincidentally, a few days after this incident, the man stabbed his police-officer wife seven times and had to be arrested again. He is out on bail.

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