Finger prints scandal suspect 'Obama' controversially goes back to work as pro democracy police faces dismissal

My life is at stake and therefore whether or not the dust finally settles I am not returning to the police force.’ These are the exact words of police officer Lucky ‘Obama’ Matsenjwa after being acquitted by the High Court of charges of murdering his police colleague, Mduduzi ‘Schaza’ Matsebula.

The online publication, Independent News, captured the sentiments of Matsenjwa as he left the High Court, relived he was not going to spend his life behind bars.

But Matsenjwa was not done. He had more dirt to dish about the police. He went to the Swaziland News, an online publication owned by Zweli Zwemart Dlamini, where he claimed former Police Commissioner and now Senator Isaac Magagula had tried to use him to sabotage the appointment of then Deputy Police Commissioner, William Dlamini.

Matsenjwa alleged that Magagula colluded with the then Director of Public Prosecution(DPP) and now Judge Nkosinathi Maseko to sabotage an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission(ACC) into the widely reported finger-prints scandal and made him the ultimate scapegoat.

I can confirm that while in prison, Isaac Magagula tried to convince me and that I could be freed if I could implicate William Dlamini in the fingerprints scandal. Magagula was working towards making sure that William was not appointed into the position” Matsenjwa was quoted by the Swaziland News.

Matsenjwa was not done. He was later interviewed on the publication’s podcast series where he accused senior police officers of corruption, torture, cover ups, murder and everything in between. Matsenjwa was a true case of hell hath no fury like a scorned cop.

Police Officer Sabelo Simelane. He is wanted out of the police force

He claimed police executive Command fabricated the criminal charges against him because he was in possession of crucial information implicating senior police officers on corruption. His long interview was circulated widely on social media and a salivating nation was fed intricate details of what a mess the police service is.

Everyone wanted an insider’s account of the corruption within the police service and it didn't matter whether it was true or not. Indeed revenge is a dish best served cold and Matsenjwa knew this perfectly well.

At the police headquarters, Matsenjwa had crossed the lines. Everyone was fuming but they couldn't do anything because he had just won his murder case and was still on suspension. The attitude within the senior leadership of the police was that Matsenjwa had gone rogue and had done so much damage to the reputation of the service.

The terms of Matsenjwa's suspension from the police were that he would return once all the cases he was facing were done. Key among his reasons of suspension was that he was implicated in the finger prints scandal about three years ago.

He was subsequently suspended from work and charged with corruption for the fingerprints scandal and  later 11 other charges were added following the mysterious death of 'Chaza Matsebula.  Police claimed Mtsenjwa had killed Matsebula in order to sabotage his corruption case as Matsebula was going to be a key witness.

That was then. Fast forward to August 2021 and Matsenjwa is back at work as a police officer and all appears forgiven and in the past. Matsenjwa managed to get himself 'lincusa' (a royal connection) who went to the police head honchos to help Mtsenjwa get his job back.

Even more surprising is that Matsenjwa’s terms of suspension stated clearly that he was to return to work only once all his cases had been finalized. He has won a majority of his criminal offences yet many others are still pending. He had previously tried to get his suspension lifted but the police, through the Attorney General's office, had been opposing his return for months.

"We went to the High Court to oppose the application because we were briefed that the police were opposing his return to work. One day we are in court and Matsenjwa comes and tells us he is back at work. We were shocked. No one had briefed us about this. We went to the police and asked what is going on and we were told there is an instruction to bring the man back," said an informed source.

A letter written to Sabelo informing him of his pending disciplinary hearing

Quite interestingly, Sabelo ‘Mido’ Simalene, a police officer based in Mbabane, is being hauled to the coals for supporting democracy in the country. Simelane's activism is well known, from his time at the University of Kwazulu Natal right to his time back in eSwatini he has been openly supporting the democratic struggle in the country.

When he finished his studies in KZN he came back home and joined the police service but never changed his views. Several warnings to stop his pro-democracy posts on Facebook had failed to dissuade him to tone it down a bit. The police decided a few days of absconding from work was good enough to chuck him out of the service once and for all. He was subsequently charged and suspended from work. 

Simelane has been taken to disciplinary hearings where the prosecution has accused him of being in South Africa where they claim he met the Economic Freedom fighters to supply the country's progressives with guns. 

It all started in June When Simelane turned up for work at the Police Head Quarters and met the Chief Staff Officer who told him that the board was waiting for him at the Mbabane Police Station.

Apparently, Simelane was supposed to have attended his disciplinary hearing on 21 June but he didn't pitch up because he was sick and had in fact submitted a sick sheet and his case was postponed to June 30, 2021. His sick sheet covered both 21 June and  30 June.

But the police claim his sick note bearing South Africa was suspicious and believe he had gone to meet the EFF in South Africa to get the guns the police say were smuggled into the country.

"Apparently the station didn't submit his sick sheet to the board and the board thought he was evading trial.  We were told that Sabelo got there and the board insisted on continuing with the trial by any means necessary and wanted to charge him with contempt on top of his charges. He asked to state his side of the story and told the board he had submitted a sick note to the station supervisors who had a duty to report to the tribunal that he was indisposed,' narrated a police source.

It was clear, continued the source, that someone was setting him up for contempt and creating the impression he was not cooperating or attempting to evade trial. 

"Sabelo told them that the trial has dragged for too long and was weighing down on him financially as he had to pay the attorney fees and that the trial was affecting him badly that he had fallen into a depression and was now on a six months antidepressants regime," continued the source. 

The Bridge understands that Simelane then asked the prosecutor to recuse himself as they were friends who had had a fallout.  In fact, the two were drinking buddies from December 2016 until December 14, 2018 where he got involved in a traffic accident where the prosecutor's car was extensively damaged.

"We are made to believe that the apprehension off bias emanates from the broken down of their relationship as a result of the said car accident. It was felt that it is in the interest of justice for the prosecutor to recuse himself. What we know from those he is close to is that the case is a none starter and the police are now embarrassed that the man they thought they would fire that easily has dragged the matter this long and worse he is unrepentant in his political views," added another police source. 

 Simelane has since filed an urgent application at the High Court where he claims that the Police Commissioner has no power to discipline him and feels that the constitution stipulates what must happen to officers like him. 

Through his lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, Simelane has told the Police Commissioner that the constitution demands that cases like his must be dealt with by the Police Service Commission. This would obviously mean amending the Police Act of 2018.

How the police have dealt with the Matsenjwa and Simelane case has become interesting. Simelane is fighting his bosses on a flew of frivolous charges and Matsenjwa is welcomed back with open arms even as his cases have not been finalised in full as per his initial suspension. Welcome to the kingdom of eSwatini