- The exiled deputy President of the banned People's United Democratic Movement of Swaziland [PUDEMO] was shot dead by gunmen who ambushed him at Nelspruit in South Africa on Tuesday morning.
Dr Gabriel Mkhumane went into self-imposed exile in the 80s, and had been a doctor at Themba Hospital in Nelspruit.
He had lived in Mozambique before settling in South Africa in 2000.
He was gunned down while on his way from attending a meeting at White River, which lies north of Nelspruit. The meeting had discussed issues around PUDEMO's planned border blockade in protest against "undemocratic situation" in Swaziland created by the 12 April 1973 Decree. The royal decree suspended the constituency and enforced emergency rule.
Dr Mkhumane's killers fled after shooting him in his car. His death comes at a time when he had begun to raise concerns around his security, as evidence by strange movements, including surveillance and suspect indicators.
Schooled and trained in Cuba, PUDEMO hero returned to work in South Africa. He has been active in the movement's activities, including painting the Swazi Kingdom as an oppressive regime and enemy of democracy.
Dr Mkhumane's death has caused shock among his colleagues - both home and abroad. Many regretted why a revolutionary hero endowed with sterling and character died in such a cowardly manner.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN] said the late hero would be most remembered for many things: humility and kindness, his concern for the plight of the many poor Swazis, his fiery opposition, revolutionary spirits and denouncement of the autocratic regime.
"He was a real people's doctor who provided many poor people free medical services," SSN said, extolling Dr Mkhumane's commitment and great combatant for his people. "He also left a living legacy as a family Doctor in Cuba."
The SSN calls on the South African government to probe his death and leave no stone unturned to bring to book his murderers.
His mother was in 2006 threatened by Swazi police that "since your son is causing trouble, he will come back in a coffin." Going by this threat, the Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] believe that Swazi police may have a case to answer.
"His death is a mystery. It seems more than just a crime, and hence we agree with the fears raised around the circumstances of his killing," COSATU said
His death should mark a new era of intensification of the Swazi struggle in pursuit of the ideals for which he stood to the end.
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