The government of Eswatini has denied news reports stating that King Mswati III has ordered the arrest of four citizens, reportedly based on allegations of treason.
In a statement released on the Eswatini government's Twitter page, deputy government spokesperson Sableo Dlamini said "in response to factually incorrect articles on arrest of Emaswati citizens", the government claimed the reports were an attempt to "taint the image" of the King and country.
Earlier this week, The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) in South Africa tweeted that King Mswati III had passed a decree that four citizens to be charged with high treason. The SSN stated the accused were Prophet Gcina Mthethwa, Sibahle Sinje chairman Musa Nkambule, journalist Musa Ndlangamandla and the founder and editor of Swaziland News, Zweli Martin Dlamini.
The penalty for treason is a death sentence, reported The Citizen.
Prophet Mtsetfwa fled to South Africa, according to Eyewitness News, and reportedly told a recent trade union march that Eswatini had to be to be a multi-party democracy by 2022.
However, the statement from the Eswatini government said the reports contain "misleading information which has no basis or fact".
"Constitutionally the king does not issue orders of arrests and no such order has been issued by the Royal Eswatini Police Service. We plead with the media to verify information sourced for the social media networks before publication to avoid feeding the public deceptive rumours and playing to the gallery of elements intent of tainting the image of His Majesty and country," the statement said.