Thursday, September 29, 2011



28 September 2011


Swaziland fires judge deemed critical of king: sources

MBABANE — Swaziland's King Mswati III has fired a judge seen as one of the only critical voices in the southern African kingdom's judiciary, a royal official said Wednesday (28 September 2011).

Judge Thomas Masuku had already been suspended from the bench in June and is facing a series of misdemeanour charges, including insulting Mswati in a 2010 ruling that used the phrase "forked tongue" in reference to the monarch.

"What we know is that the JSC (Judicial Service Commission) recommended he be fired, and given the fact that the terms of the suspension were only for three months, the king found it proper to endorse the decision of the JSC and fire the judge," said the source close to the palace, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Judicial Service Commission secretary Lorraine Hlophe said she could not comment.

The official told AFP that Justice Minister David Matse had also been suspended over the Masuku affair, which has sown divisions between Swaziland's lawyers and its judiciary.

Masuku was one of the few judges who dared to be critical of Mswati, Africa's last absolute monarch.

Swazi lawyers have been boycotting the country's courts in protest at his suspension, and the Swaziland Law Society has demanded the removal of Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi for his handling of the matter.

Some 200 lawyers staged a protest last week to demand Ramodibedi be sacked.

Swaziland is currently reeling from a crippling financial crisis and growing discontent with Mswati, who is accused of bankrupting the country with his jet-set lifestyle and lavish spending on his 13 wives.

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