Marriage lawsuit against Swaziland's king is postponed

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

MBABANE, Swaziland -- A woman who sued Swaziland's monarchy to prevent the king from marrying her daughter postponed her lawsuit indefinitely Tuesday, saying she doubted she had any chance of winning.

Lindiwe Dlamini had asked the court to force the royal family to release her 18-year-old daughter, Zena Zoraya Mahlangu, from a royal guest house. Mahlangu and two other women were picked by King Mswati III's aides in September after the king decided they would be his 10th, 11th and 12th wives.

The lawsuit did not name the king, who is above the law, but said several royal family members defied tradition and the law in taking Mahlangu. The unprecedented case has pitted the tiny southern African nation's traditional royalty against the court system.

Last month Mswati sent his security chief, police commissioner, army commander and the attorney general to tell the three judges they must dismiss the lawsuit or resign, but they refused.

Tendered apology

Chief Justice Stanley Sapire said Tuesday that Attorney-General Phesheya Dlamini had withdrawn the threat and tendered a formal apology for interfering with the court's independence.

Lucas Maziya, Dlamini's lawyer, said he had no doubt his client's daughter had been abducted, but the chances of her being released were slim.

Mahlangu told her mother in a weekend telephone conversation that she "accepted her present position as the king's fiance," Maziya said.

However, two court officials were denied access to Mahlangu to obtain her views about her impending marriage.

Sapire and two of his colleagues accepted the application to postpone the case.

Maziya said Dlamini reserved her right to reopen the lawsuit if she was not satisfied with her daughter's treatment.

Mswati, Africa's last absolute monarch, can marry as often as he pleases. His father, King Sobuza II, had more than 100 wives. It is usually considered an honor to have one's child chosen as a royal bride.

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