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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 13:55 GMT
Swazi royal kidnap case shelved
Swazi reed dance (photo: Chris Hughes)
The girl was chosen at the annual reed dance
The mother of a girl allegedly abducted to become the 10th wife of Swaziland's King Mswati III has agreed to indefinitely postpone the case.

Lindiwe Dlamini had sued royal aides in a case which called into question the king's absolute powers and brought the royal family into conflict with the judicial system.


For the first time my client was allowed to only have a telephone conversation with her daughter at the weekend

Lucas Maziya
Lawyer
But her daughter, Zehna Mahlangu, was made a royal fiancee in a traditional ritual at the weekend, effectively making her the king's latest wife.

This seems to have placated Ms Dlamini but she did not drop the court case in case she was not satisfied with her daughter's future treatment, her lawyer told the court on Tuesday.

"For the first time my client was allowed to only have a telephone conversation with her daughter at the weekend," lawyer Lucas Maziya said.

"She told me that her daughter said she had accepted her present position as the kings fiancee."

Apology

Last Friday, the 18-year-old was seen in public for the first time since she disappeared in September.

Ms Mahlangu's mother alleges that her daughter was abducted and had gone to the country's high court to seek her release.

King Mswati (photo: Chris Hughes)
The king is also bare-breasted

Judges at the high court on Friday refused to obey an order from the palace to either drop the case or resign.

Chief Justice Stanley Sapire said that Attorney General Phesheya Dlamini had formally apologised to the court after he and other officials had ordered the judges to drop the case or face dismissal.

When Ms Mahlangu appeared in public, she looked relaxed and "her body language suggested she was not being kept by the king against her will," a South African newspaper, the Saturday Star, reported.

"She smiled all the time when the public scrambled to catch a glimpse of her," the paper said.

She was chosen by the king at the annual reed festival, when girls dance bare-breasted in front of the king.

Family tradition

King Mswati, Africa's last absolute monarch, is above the law but has come under pressure in recent years to introduce democratic reforms and abandon polygamy.

The court had been trying to get access to the teenager, who is kept at a royal guest house, to find out whether she actually wants to become the king's 10th wife.

The king's first wife, Queen LaMbikiza
King Mswati's first wife is a practising lawyer

This is the first time the mother of a prospective Swazi Queen has taken legal action against the royal family.

Women rights activists have rallied behind the mother.

Ms Mahlangu will officially become King Mswati's wife when she becomes pregnant, according to AP news agency.

Official biographers say King Mswati's father, Sobhuza, had scores of wives during his 61-year reign, which ended when he died in 1982.

See also:

01 Nov 02 | Africa
23 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Jun 02 | Africa
12 Nov 01 | Africa
26 Oct 01 | Africa
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