The murder of prominent Eswatini human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko at the weekend has grabbed international attention, with the European Union on Sunday calling on the Mbabane authorities to probe the assassination and ensure the safety of government opponents.Maseko was shot dead by unknown assailants at his house in Manzini on Saturday night.
“The European Union strongly condemns Mr Maseko’s assassination and looks forward to the results of the investigations already launched by the authorities to identify and prosecute those responsible for this brutal act,” the bloc said late Sunday.
The EU called on the Eswatini government to ensure the safety of all citizens, including political activists.
“This tragic loss comes in a row of killings, arson attacks and other violent acts, which have destabilised the country over the past months.”
It noted that it has since June 2021 “followed with grave concern the situation in Eswatini.”
Fellow activists and human rights defenders across southern Africa hailed Maseko as a “flagbearer for democracy and human rights in Eswatini” and called for an independent probe by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“We call on SADC to investigate the killing of Thulani, and to call out the continued impunity against those who target critics of the monarchy,” said Anna Meerkotter, executive director of the Johannesburg-based Southern Africa Litigation Centre.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change, said it mourned “a fearless advocate for democracy and social justice”.
The Mozambique Human Rights Defenders Network condemned “the cold-blooded murder” of Maseko and said those responsible “must be brought to justice”.
The Eswatini government on Sunday condemned the assassination and called on Swazis who may have information on the attack to assist the police with their investigations.
“Thulani Maseko’s demise is a loss to the nation and his footprints as a human rights lawyer are there as proof of his contribution to the country. He will surely be missed,” a government spokesperson said in a statement.
Maseko, who headed the Multi-Stakeholder Forum of political parties and civil society groups leading the campaign for democracy in the kingdom, was shot through the windows of his home.
The attackers did not enter the house or take anything.