ESWATINI: Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, the Chairperson of the Multi Stakeholder Forum(MSF) has been shot dead.

The death of the prominent lawyer was confirmed by his wife Tanele Maseko on Saturday evening, he was gunned down at his home, Luyengo.

“It’s true,Thulani has been killed, bashaye waphola Nkhosi. Ubobuye ushaye kwanyalo kusenemaphoyisa,” said the wife to the late MSF Chairperson.

The death of the human rights lawyer comes a few hours after King Mswati warned those calling for democracy that his mercenaries would deal with them.

Eswatini is in the midst of a political unrest, Mswati has intensified the killing of political activists and human rights defenders.

The tragic assassination of Swazi human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko is a chilling reminder of how the Corrupt political elites are prepared to do anything to shut down pro-democracy voices.

He was shot yesterday in his home, all because he fought for democracy in Eswatini.

Deprose Muchena described Maseko’s assassination as cold-blooded murder. He tweeted:

Completely devastated after hearing news of the assassination of a dear friend & #Swaziland’s leading human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko.

He was gunned down in his home, sitting in his living room. This cold-blooded murder is a chilling reminder of what #Eswatini has become.

Elvis Mugari wrote:

I extend my sincere condolences to the Maseko family on the tragic passing of Thulani Maseko, a leading human rights lawyer and pro-democracy activist who was shot dead yesterday evening at his house.

Thulani Maseko was shot dead on Saturday night by unknown attackers in Luhleko, around 50 kilometres from the capital Mbabane, opposition spokesman Sikelela Dlamini said.

He was told that “assassins shot him through the window while he was inside (the) house with his family.”

“Details are still scant (and), owing to the trauma his family members are undergoing, they are not yet ready to speak,” Dlamini said.

Maseko was a leading human rights lawyer and columnist in Eswatini who had a pending court battle with King Mswati III over the monarch’s move to rename the country Eswatini by decree.

The country’s name was changed from Swaziland to Eswatini to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain in 2018.

But Maseko contended that the king did not follow the constitution in the process.

In 2014, Maseko and editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu were jailed for contempt of court over articles critical of the government and judiciary.

Maseko was the founder of MSF, a coalition of opposition parties, associations and churches.

His death comes just hours after the king challenged activists fighting to end Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

King Mswati had said “people should not shed tears and complain about mercenaries killing them”.

“These people started the violence first but when the state institutes a crackdown on them for their actions, they make a lot of noise blaming King Mswati for bringing in mercenaries,” he said.

Last week, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) alleged that the king hired mercenaries, mainly white Afrikaners from neighbouring South Africa, to help Eswatini’s security forces to suppress rising opposition to his oppressive regime.

But government spokesman Alpheous Nxumalo said “no hitmen have been hired”.

King Mswati, who has ruled since 1986, is regularly accused of human rights violations.

The king, who can dissolve parliament, the government and appoint or dismiss judges, also commands the police and army.

In June 2021, pro-democracy protests descended into violence, resulting in several deaths.