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‘Commander’ committed for trial

By Ntombi Mhlongo

Self-confessed ‘Commander’ of Swaziland International Solidarity Forces, Thabo Kunene and his co-accused Sibusiso Nkomonye are set for a lengthy court battle as the state pushes ahead for a trial.

Chief Justice (CJ) Bheki Maphalala has signed an order committing their matter to the High Court of Eswatini. The signing of the order suggests the state has a strong case and sufficient evidence against the pair.

This transpired on Monday when the duo appeared for their second remand. The pair will no longer be expected to appear for remand but they will wait to be informed of the trial date.

During the appearance on Monday, it turned out that the two accused persons now have a legal representative. They are being represented by Attorneys Professor Dlamini and Leo Dlamini.

READ MORE: Government foils plan to harm ‘Commander’

When they made their first court appearance, the two were self-represented and it transpired that their relatives were finding it difficult to secure the services of an attorney. Family members were in court on Monday to support the pair.

A family member that spoke on condition of anonymity said as a family, they were waiting for the day when they will be able to have a conversation with Kunene so that he can tell them how he ended up being linked to terrorist acts in the country.

The relative said while a lot has been said about Kunene and his alleged crimes, they wanted to hear from him what exactly got him involved in such activities.

Some members of political parties were in attendance to see the ‘Commander’ and members of both His Majesty’s Correctional Services and Royal Eswatini Police (REPS) had a tough time controlling them.

The political activists demanded to be allowed inside the courtroom. Kunene and Nkomonye face 43 charges of contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008.

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Police guarding the pair as they left court.

Some of the charges include six murders, 17 attempted murder, malicious damage to property, and arson. Their charge sheet also links them to the murder of a member of His Majesty’s Correctional Services, Mike Mthethwa.

The charge sheet includes a shooting that occurred at the homestead of the CJ. The State has said that all these alleged crimes happened during the peak of the political unrest which culminated in looting, torching of property, and deaths.

During that time, the State has said, there was a group of persons who called themselves ‘underground forces’ who made attacks targeted mainly at armed forces, judicial officers, prosecutors, regiments, and traditional authorities.

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