Indeed, a question has to be asked of why the lawyer representing Jele’s family did not insist on engaging the services of a forensic scientist to establish this most critical element of the cause of Jele’s death. Leo Gama could easily have brought the whole inquest to a standstill in order to force everyone to find such an expert who would make a finding to the question.
All he needed was the will power to do so.
Any reasonable man will conclude that Gama’s failure to settle this question let the Jele family down badly. He particularly let down Jele’s aunt who lost a nephew she had brought up since the age of two.
Without a scientific finding on how Jele died it is very difficult to accept the whole report. The nonsensical explanation by Simelane just makes a bad situation worse. While it may well be said that Gama, supposedly representing Jele’s interests, let him down, from Simelane’s report a picture is painted of how the whole justice system of this country actually conspired against him. For good measure, after his death, the state machinery hounded Jele to his grave.
The police let Jele down.
The Director of Public Prosecutions let Jele down.
His lawyer let him down.
The judge at the High Court who saw him a few hours before he died let him down. So did the authorities at Sidwashini Correctional Services.
Sipho Jele was arrested on Saturday May 01, 2010 by the police while he was on his way to celebrate Workers’ Day at Salesian Sports Ground in Manzini. He was arrested by Assistant Superintendent Methula and Inspector Gilbert Kunene because he was wearing a t-shirt written the word Pudemo.
“They advised him that he was in contravention of the provisions of the Suppression of Terrorism Act by wearing the said t-shirt and that he was then under arrest,” says the coroner’s report.
It is very instructive to note that the coroner does not identify the so-called Methula by name, nor does she give his police force number in her report but is quick to tell us Kunene’s first name, rank and police force number instead.
It is instructive because an Assistant Superintendent is senior to an Inspector. In Swaziland, where elders are to be respected, Methula’s name is above our purview in social discourse. His name can only be known by labadzala because that is where he belongs.
But then, the report is replete with such sloppy workmanship by the coroner in her citation of the players who had a hand in the chain of events that led to Jele’s death.
Nowhere in the coroner’s report are we told how wearing a t-shirt contravenes the terrorism act; whether it is Pudemo, Tommy Hilfiger or Pringle label. Not only did Simelane fail to quote the relevant section of the law that prohibits wearing some t-shirts, she did not tell us how this law tallies with the Constitution of 2005 given to the people of Swaziland by King Mswati III and which, regardless of his political views, Jele enjoyed the protection of.
She, however, gives us a clue that up to the time Jele appears before a judge at the High Court, the DPP was looking at drafting additional charges under the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act but expediently did not disclose the holding charge.
The issue of the t-shirt is critical in arriving at the burning question of whether Jele should, in the first place, have been at Sidwashini Correctional Institution on the night he died. It is part of the application of a rule in law Simelane is well familiar with and trained in. Establishing the causal connection between wearing a t-shirt and dying as a consequence thereof was important to Simelane’s inquiry.
In her inquest report Simelane lays down six points as her terms of reference derived from Section 4 of the Special Appointment of Coroner Notice in which she states: “If she is satisfied that reasonable ground exist for suspecting that the death was caused by the criminal or culpable or negligent conduct of some unknown person or persons, she shall refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions..”
In order to establish a reasonable explanation for what killed Jele, Simelane was enjoined to apply an objective test to the matter. Her conclusions must pass the test of the ordinary, reasonable man in the street. In this case, she would have to satisfy herself whether Jele’s wearing of the t-shirt was relevant to his death.
In other words, would Jele be alive today had he worn another t-shirt?
That would have forced her to establish the legal position of that t-shirt.
The question of whether in the ordinary course of events a person can walk up a wall and hang himself would also have been uppermost in her mind. If human beings do not ordinarily walk up walls then the explanation she gave as a finding fails the test. In the event that they do, she would have had to come up with a plausible and reasonable explanation to the efficacy of this strange occurrence. These would be particularly important in the case of someone with acute tonsillitis and TB of the lungs and liver.
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