1 May 2019

Swaziland Journalist Beaten for Investigating Bishop's Sex With Schoolgirl Allegation

A journalist in Swaziland /eSwatini needed hospital treatment after he was beaten by family members of a prominent bishop in the kingdom. Zwelethu Dlamini had been following up a story that Bishop Bheki Lukhele was having sexual relations with a schoolgirl.

Dlamini works for the Swazi Observer newspaper. The Sunday edition of the Observer reported (28 April 2019), 'The incident, which occurred in the Lubombo region, saw one member of the news team rushed to the hospital after he was clobbered by three sets of different mobs which left a company vehicle dented by clubs and a broken windshield from a flying missile.' The newspaper said those involved in the attack included some of the bishop's in-laws.

The Observer said it was investigation allegations that Lukhele, 'had sexual relations with a Form Two pupil who ultimately dropped out after falling pregnant'. She is thought to be 21 years old.

Lukhele, founder and leader in the All Nations Christian Church in Zion, reportedly intended to marry her. According to the Observer, Lukhele, 'is known to enjoy a polygamous lifestyle'.

Journalists in Swaziland often face physical attacks when reporting. In September 2018, Mduduzi Mngomezulu, a photojournalist with the Swazi Observer, was manhandled and assaulted by teachers as he took photographs at a protest. He was hit with open hands and fists and sustained injuries on the face and body.

Also in September 2018, police attacked a Times of Swaziland journalist Andile Nsibande who was photographing them during a workers' dispute where they fired shots. Police officers demanded that Nsibande delete pictures he had taken and then beat up the defenceless journalist. He was taken to hospital where he received treatment.

In February 2018, a photojournalist with the Swazi Observer was attacked after he took pictures of a convoy of overcrowded vehicles transporting prison wardens.

Another photojournalist with the Sunday Observer was attacked in July 2018 after he took pictures of government vehicles parked outside a deputy prime minister's office. Police forced the photojournalist to delete pictures he had taken.

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