COSATU mourns the cold-blooded assassination of heroic Swazi activist – Comrade Thulani Maseko

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is deeply saddened by the passing of the gallant and revolutionary activist, Comrade Thulani Maseko. Comrade Masuku Rudolf Maseko was shot in cold blood on Saturday 21st of January, 2023 at his home – in front of his family.

Comrade Maseko was born at Luhleko, a place near Bhunya in Swaziland’s Manzini Region. He was a human rights lawyer and an esteemed member of the Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland and the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network. As a fierce critic of the regime and published in the Nation’s Magazine, criticising the lack of judicial independence in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. He also publicly criticised the King’s influence on the country’s judicial system and clamoured for democracy.

For his opposition to the last standing absolute monarchy on the continent dictatorial regime in Swaziland, Cde Maseko and his co-accused journalist Bheki Makhubu, were imprisoned from 2014-2015 for contempt of court for criticising the country’s judicial system. At his release, the State admitted it had no case against them. He was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Even behind the bars, Comrade Maseko refused to be silenced. He continued to publish in Swaziland and internationally. In August 2014, he wrote to then US President, Barak Obama, ahead of the 2014 United States Africa Leaders’ Summit, seeking the President’s intervention in his case.

COSATU continues to pledge its commitment and solidarity to the people of Swaziland. We call on all progressive forces to agitate for the economic and political isolation of the Mswati government, the unconditional release of all political prisoners and support all the workers’ demands until they are realised. We also call for an end to This campaign needs to be strengthened and intensified so that the exploited and oppressed people of Swaziland can be freed from the shackles of the Mswati regime.

Comrade Maseko lived his life by the words ‘until freedom is achieved in my country Swaziland, I will be on the road to justice”, and to honour his legacy and how he lived – ours is to continue with the fight for a free and democratic Swaziland. We demand immediate justice for all the slain activists of Swaziland!! Enough is enough!

The federation conveys its deepest and heartfelt sympathies to the Maseko family, the Swazi people, progressive forces in support of the Swazi struggle, colleagues, and friends of the late Comrade Maseko.  We wish them strength and comfort during this difficult time.

Lala ngoxolo nkokheli!

Issued by COSATU 

Sonia Mabunda-Kaziboni

International Secretary

COSATU Head Office

Tel:  011 339 4911 | Cell: 072 535 1577Email: