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e.TV journalists detained

(MISA/IFEX) - 11 April 2012 - Swaziland government officials detained two e.TV journalists on the morning of Wednesday, 11 April 2012. Journalist Tumaole Mohlaoli and Cameraperson Meshack Dube were, according to reports, detained at a roadblock outside the capital, Mbabane, and had their passports and equipment seized. e.TV is a South Africa-based free-to-air news and entertainment television channel.

Speaking to the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Regional Secretariat, e.TV Africa Editor and Head of News, Chris Maroleng confirmed the development and said from the information they have gathered so far, the crew was detained for not having appropriate accreditation to cover marches taking place this week in Swaziland to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the 1973 King's decree that enslaved and imprisoned Swazis.

“We understand they were questioned by Swazi government officials and then taken to the Ministry of Information where the issue of accreditation arose,” said Maroleng, confirming also that e.TV would seek the necessary accreditation if it was a requirement to do so.

Other reports have quoted Maroleng as saying: “We are committed to media freedom and we hope that the Swazi authorities will respect the basic human rights of our crew, who were deployed on a legitimate story to cover the activities in Swaziland.”

The Swaziland Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) has condemned the manner of the detention and called on the Swazi government to allow freedom of Expression and media freedom. The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC), a coalition of progressive organisations inside Swaziland, also condemned the incident.

“We demand freedom of Expression and the right for journalists to freely cover the events in Swaziland, so that the world can know that the myth of a peaceful country, unquestioningly accepting royal autocracy in the name of Swazi culture is a fallacy and lie,” said the SDC in a statement.

The MISA Regional Secretariat continues to monitor developments in Swaziland and echoes the call for Swazi authorities to observe and respect the basic rights of the e.TV crew while they are detained.

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