Thulani Rudolf Maseko is one of the people who were peaceful but resolute in their belief that the people of his nation (Emaswati) deserve to elect their government. However, his being peaceful did not help him when the forces of darkness came for his life. May his soul rest in peace.
Due to the fact that associating oneself with progressive minded people in this country attracts state repression, all people whom we talked to decline to have their identity published. Talking to a neighbor of the slain TR as Maseko was affectionately known among his peers and colleagues, he lamented that the murder of TR has robbed them of a good man. He mentioned that TR was of great assistance to them as neighbors. Being the good lawyer that TR was, the they mention that whenever they had challenges that required the intervention of the law, they could approach him. TR would assist even if one had not paid for services, if the case was good and would advance the enjoyment of human rights.
A family member said they were at a loss of words as TR was the only male child of his mother and had a single sister who was dependent on TR. She lamented that with TR’s children being young, ‘’who will provide for them?’’ She mentioned that as a family they would one day wish to see the assassin and find out why he or she killed TR and robbed them of such a good person.
One of his colleagues in the legal profession and an activist who worked closely with TR mentioned that the assassin targeted the wrong person. She mentioned that TR was the person who always objected to them taking up arms and fight the repressive regime of this country. He always encouraged them to approach the courts to advance their call for change. She mentioned that he will always argue that even though the courts were hostile to them, they have to persevere. She said TR would state that in this way they are exposing the regime for what it was yet also documenting the atrocities of the state.
The colleagues went on to mention that the best person who would protect the violent change of government had been removed and she was not sure who will take over as most of them were at times thinking that a violent tale over was the solution. He mentioned that even if the regime would be pushed to a corner and want to negotiate, the person who would assist in such has been taken away. TR was also a unifying figure even among the different progressive forces in the country and all of them were listening to him. Hence it would have been easy for him to bring everyone to the table.
The messages of condolences and the attendance in his funeral of people from outside the boarders speak to the fact that TR’s influence was felt all over the continent. A number of international organizations offered their condolences but also called for an independent investigation to the assassination.
Speaking to the leadership of the Multi Stakeholder Forum from which TR was the Chairperson, they mentioned that they have lost a leader par excellence and life will never be the same. They felt that TR’s boots were too big for one to fit and they are still struggling to identify who could take over the baton. TR was more of an extra ordinary person as even the government he fought so many battles with did mention what a great person he was.
After this loss, life will never be the same again for those who knew TR and those who defend democracy.
*Names withdrawn for identity protection, including author.