Thulani Maseko was a courageous human rights defender, lawyer, and government critic who refused to turn a blind eye to the state’s oppression. He was murdered for his bravery in speaking out. People who knew Thulani described him as humble and friendly, with an incredible sense of humour. Openly critical of the country’s use of repressive laws and state violence, on 21 January 2023 Thulani was shot dead in front of his wife. To date no one has been held accountable.
DEMAND JUSTICE FOR THULANI MASEKO
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After qualifying as a lawyer, Thulani fought tirelessly for the people of Eswatini, a country ruled by a wealthy absolute monarchy, and where approximately 60% of the population live under the poverty line. Thulani was openly critical of the country’s repressive laws and excessive state violence used to silence peaceful protest.
We shall never surrender, for we know there is a price to pay for the truthThulani, Oslo Freedom Forum, 2016
Thulani knew the risk of speaking out was high. In 2014 he was arrested and charged with criminal contempt of court after writing two news articles denouncing the lack of judicial independence and integrity in Eswatini. He spent over a year in prison. Undeterred, Thulani continued his human rights work, stating in 2016: “We shall never surrender, for we know there is a price to pay for the truth.”
On 21 January 2023, Thulani paid the ultimate price. He was shot dead at close range, through the window of their home, in front of his wife, Tanele. Just hours earlier the king gave a speech stating that those calling for democratic reform would be “dealt with” and “people should not shed tears and complain about mercenaries killing them.” To date no one has been held accountable for Thulani’s killing.