Friday, October 14, 2011


Judge Thomas Masuku was fired from the Swaziland High Court because he showed ‘disrespect’ to his betters, one of the men responsible for his sacking has revealed.

Masuku even laughed out loud when the charges against him were read out at his Judicial Service Commission (JSC) disciplinary hearing, it is claimed.

Sibusiso Shongwe, described by the Times of Swaziland newspaper as ‘an influential member’ of the JSC, said Masuku disrespected the tribunal, the Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Masuku’s sacking has caused an outcry inside and outside Swaziland. Lawyers have been boycotting the law courts for 10 weeks and respected judicial and human rights organisations across the world have condemned his sacking as an attack on the judicial system.

Shongwe told a meeting at a Swazi primary school that among other things, Masuku was fired for showing lack of respect during his hearing on 11 August 2011.

The Times reports today (14 October 2011), ‘He [Shongwe] said to prove that he lacked respect for the tribunal, he [Masuku] even laughed when the charges were put to him, instead of responding.

‘Not only did Shongwe say Masuku disrespected the tribunal which was chaired by his boss, Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and his employers, the JSC, but he said he just lacked respect for authority. He said it was even worse because he showed lack of respect for the King.’

The Times reported Shongwe saying, ‘Judge Thomas Masuku was fired for lack of respect for authority. What happened to him is exactly what happens to a person who lacks respect for authority. To show that he lacked respect, Masuku laughed when he was asked about the charges that had been laid against him.’

The Times reported, ‘Shongwe said Masuku was not expected to exhibit such behaviour during the hearing.

‘Shongwe further revealed that Judge Masuku was fired for showing lack of respect to his boss, the CJ.

‘“The CJ issued a directive that no judge should leave the court without his authority. One day Masuku left the court without informing his authority. When the CJ discovered that he was not in court or in his chambers, he called him. In response Masuku told the CJ that he should not talk to him as if he was a child. He further told the CJ that he would rather resign when he was asked why he was absent from work,” said Shongwe.

“He made an example that even within a family, there has to be respect and the judge showed that he lacked respect for his boss.”’

Masuku had been accused of using the term ‘forked tongue’ in reference to King Mswati.

The Times reported, ‘Shongwe said the judge was not supposed to use that term when referring to the King. He said Masuku should have just put it in simple terms that he did not believe that the King had said what he is alleged to have said, not to then say if the King said it, he was speaking with a ‘forked tongue’.

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