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MBABANE – In an online broadcast on Wednesday, Mlungisi Makhanya made a myriad of threats, insinuations of war and used coercive language towards two top detectives.

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) hosted its President, Makhanya, on their Facebook page, where he spoke on a number of issues including the arrest of Thabo Kunene, the self-styled ‘commander’ of a group known as the Swaziland International Solidarity Forces (SISF), that claimed to be at the forefront of killing members of State security forces. Makhanya made life-threatening utterances on two senior police officers, who were at the forefront of the crackdown on perpetrators of the recent attacks. The two officers are Senior Superintendent Clement Sihlongonyane and Manzini Regional Crime Branch Officer (RCBO) Senior Superintendent Thabo Hlophe.

He alleged that the two were part of a team of police officers who joined forces with traditional healer Andile Nkomonye, popularly known as Dr Mkhulu, to orchestrate the arrest, detention and smuggling of Kunene into the country. Kunene was reportedly arrested by the local police, led by Sihlongonyane, in one of the informal crossings at the borderline to Eswatini. He was allegedly arrested after illegally entering the country following an arrest and detention by Dr Mkhulu’s security. Kunene and his co-accused Sibusiso Nkomonye were apprehended in Rustenburg, South Africa, after allegedly trying to steal guns at Dr Mkhulu’s compound.   


Makhanya said Kunene’s apprehension and the method used to take him into the country were illegal and the two police officers would face the wrath of ‘freedom fighters’. He said a previous hit on Sihlongonyane might have missed the target but the next one was not going to miss. Regarding Hlophe, Makhanya said his day was coming and it was very near. He said Kunene was a ‘freedom fighter’ and not a murderer and, therefore, deserved to be supported by all those calling for democracy. He further mentioned that all those in police custody under the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 were freedom fighters and not terrorists.

“We want to speak directly to one Clement Sihlongonyane and one Thabo Hlophe, who were a part of the team that crossed the border to apprehend and smuggle Kunene and Nkomonye into Eswatini. You might have been missed as a target before but there won’t be a miss again; Thabo, your day is coming too. You will never deter us, we are freedom fighters and we are not cowards. We do not hide behind balaclavas but we come face to face with anyone who is against us. You should try again and come with your witch doctors, we are waiting for you and we will make sure that you return everyone under your custody back to us. This is a liberation war,” he said.

The PUDEMO president stated that every commander had generals under him and, therefore, the police officers should be mindful of how they approach them in future. He warned the officers to remember that they were in a liberation battle. He alleged that Kunene was being tortured by the police in a bid to force him to implicate some members of his political party. “We will not rest as an organisation and we will do everything within our powers to support all those in the hands of the police. It is for that reason that we encourage the nation to denounce the notion that the ‘commander’ is an enemy of the nation.


“We also want to assure the nation that there are still a lot of emaSwati who worked with the ‘commander’ and who are willing to do anything to support the calls for democracy. This group of emaSwati has restored the dignity of the nation and people respect us as a nation now,” he said.
He said Kunene was not the only one but there were others who were left to continue where he left off.

He further issued another threat to Dr Mkhulu, who was instrumental in the arrest of Kunene and his co-accused. He said weapons of freedom fighters were available and ready to be used. He said the month of June marked an anniversary of the lives that were lost during the June 2021 political unrest.
He thanked the Concerned Citizens Forum group for delivering a petition to the South African High Commission in Eswatini, in protest against the arrest of the self-styled ‘commander’.In an interview with our daily publication, The Times of Eswatini, after his Facebook remarks, Makhanya said the statements he made regarding some senior police officers were not a threat, but commitment.

The leader of PUDEMO also claimed that he was not speaking for himself, but he was just a conveyer-belt for people of Eswatini, in particular members of his political party and the mass democratic movement (MDM). He said the commitment he conveyed was just prayers of the people he represented and those who were affected by the alleged criminal activities, which were committed by the senior officers in question.


The PUDEMO president emphasised that he was assuring the officers that sooner rather than later, fate would catch up with them. He alleged that they received purportedly verifiable reports from people around what the officers did. Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said though they were not aware of the video where Makhanya made the threats, they frowned upon any threat made against any citizen. “I have not seen the video but it is public knowledge that a threat to anyone is a crime. The police service considers any form of a threat as a criminal offence,” she said.