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MBABANE - Relatives and friends of the self-confessed ‘commander’, Thabo Kunene, are for now not allowed to visit him at the Correctional Services facility where he is currently being kept.  

According to His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS), this is done for security reasons. The relatives who attempted to go and see him said they were informed by officers of the Correctional Services facility that they would be advised in due course when it would be conducive for them to be allowed to visit him. Currently, the Correctional Services said they would only allow an attorney to have access to Kunene. This position, which also applies to Kunene’s co-accused, Sibusiso Nkomonye, was confirmed by HMCS Public Relations Officer Senior Superintendent Gugulethu Dlamini, who said this was done for security reasons.  “It is true that other people except for a lawyer are not allowed to see the accused and this has been done for security reasons,” said Senior Superintendent Dlamini.


It has been reliably gathered that Kunene and Nkomonye are still assisting the police in their investigation. They are said to have been taken to various areas as part of the collection of evidence by the police. The Correctional Services facility, where the accused are being kept has also not been disclosed for safety reasons. The duo will appear at the High Court for their second remand hearing on Monday. It remains to be seen whether when the accused persons appear in court on Monday, they would be having a legal representative or not.  During their maiden court appearance, they were self-represented and Kunene’s relatives were reportedly encountering difficulties in securing legal representation for him.

Many lawyers are reportedly not comfortable in representing him. Kunene and his co-accused Nkomonye are facing 43 charges of allegedly contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008.  The charges include six murders, 17 attempted murder, nine of malicious damage to property and two counts of arson. The accused persons as per the charge sheet also had a hand in the murder of a warder, Mike Mthethwa, murder of Zandondo Chief Mahloma, shooting at the homestead of Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala and murder of law enforcement agents. In the summary of evidence that was presented in court, the prosecution submitted that during the month of June 2021, there was a civil unrest in the country.  


The Crown went on to submit that during the unrest, government and most of emaSwati had their properties seriously damaged and or burnt, lives were lost and some people were injured. “A group of people who called themselves ‘underground solidarity forces’ emerged. The attacks were targeted mainly to the armed forces, judicial officers, prosecutors, traditional authorities, regiments, Members of Parliament (MPs) and the public,” submitted the Crown.

It was further the submission of the prosecution, that on July 25 of the same year, Kunene, who introduced himself as a ‘commander’ of the solidarity forces and at times referred to himself as a member of the solidarity forces, made instigating, threatening and intimidating statements. This week, the police obtained an order to seize, among other things, the camouflage jackets with hoods that were worn by Kunene and Nkomonye.The other items which had also been seized by police, through the court order, are cellphones, camouflage trouser, commercial explosives, explosive blasting cartridge and an electric cable.