April 19, 2013 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Magazine editor gets two years in prison or stiff fine

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed to learn that the Swaziland high court has sentenced Bheki Makhubu, the editor of The Nation magazine, to a fine of 200,000 emalangeni (16,700 euros) or two years in prison, with the jail sentence to take immediate effect if the fine is not paid within three days. The sentence was passed on 17 April after Makhubu was found guilty of contempt of court for criticizing Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi. “The two-year jail term passed on Bheki Makhubu is out of all proportion,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This harsh sentence, which violates freedom of expression, was handed down by a court acting as plaintiff and judge at the same time. We urge the high court to respect Swaziland’s constitution, which guarantees media freedom.” According to the local media, the contempt charge was based on two articles that appeared in November 2009 and February 2010 in The Nation, which is owned by Swaziland Independent Publishers. The Nation is the only independent magazine in Swaziland, which is ranked 155th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. King Mswati III has been on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Predators of Press Freedom” for years. More information about media freedom in Swaziland Press releases List of Predators of Press Freedom