Communists and pro-democracy activists across Swaziland and South Africa are mourning the death of Amos Mbulaheni Mbedzi, a South African communist revolutionary who fought against the apartheid regime. He died on Tuesday, June 7, in the city of Polokwane, capital of South Africa’s Limpopo province. He had been serving a prison term in Swaziland but was transferred to South Africa to finish his remaining time in prison after it had become clear that he would not live for much longer, having been denied medical care in the Swazi prison. The 58-year-old had spent the last year of his life paralyzed and wheelchair bound, dependent on his fellow inmates in a maximum security prison in Swaziland.
After the end of apartheid in South Africa and the 1994 democratic elections, Mbedzi had moved to Swaziland to struggle for the liberation of its people from the last absolute monarch on the continent, King Mswati III.
“Comrade Amos Mbedzi gave his life serving the people of Swaziland. He was arrested in September 2008, charged under Swaziland’s draconian Terrorism Act. When the regime failed to prove terrorism, it ridiculously changed the charge for the murder of his two (own) comrades, Musa “MJ” Dlamini and Jack Govender, who tragically lost their lives in September 2008 in a bomb blast. Comrade Amos survived the blast but was heavily injured,” the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) said in a statement. He was sentenced to 85 years of concurrent terms in prison.
“His deportation earlier this year was because it was evident that his life was nearing its end and it became convenient to send him to a South African prison to die. The regime had delivered a slow, inhumane and painful death to him by tormenting and draining the life out him in the most cruel fashions and (then) sent him to South African prison in an attempt to sanitize his image from the unjust incarceration that led to his untimely death,” said Swaziland Multistakeholder Forum.
“As Swazis, we shall never forget your sacrifice,” said the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS). “Just like Che Guevara, you sacrificed your life for the liberation of human beings. Pass our greetings to Musa Dlamini and Jack Govender,” it added, referring to Mbedzi’s comrades who died in the bomb blast on the day of his arrest. One of them was a SACP member and the other was a member of PUDEMO.
“In the memory of Comrade Amos Mbedzi, the SACP will continue to support the struggle by the people of Swaziland,” the South African Communist Party (SACP) said in its statement.
“In memory of Comrade Amos Mbulaheni Mbedzi, the CPS calls for the unity of the people of Swaziland to wage a relentless fight, under the “Democracy Now” campaign, for the complete dismantling of the.., (monarchy) which has oppressed the people of Swaziland for about five decades,” the CPS stated.