Two Swaziland High Court judges, the fired Minister of Justice and the High Court Registrar appeared in Mbabane Magistrates Court on Tuesday (21 April 2015) on various charges relating to the on-going judicial crisis in the kingdom.
The accused are High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale; Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Sibusiso Shongwe; High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelane; and High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi.
Shongwe had been fired from his Cabinet post on Tuesday following his arrest.
The accused faced different charges. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported the court proceedings in its edition on Wednesday (22 April 2015).
It said, ‘They were charged differently so they made their way into the accused dock in groups. The first to take to the dock were Minister Shongwe and Nhlabatsi, who are both charged together with the elusive Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.’
Ramodibedi reportedly faces 23 charges, including abuse of power. He has been resisting arrest at his home in Mbabane since a warrant was issued against him on Friday (17 April 2015).
The Observer continued, ‘In this charge, they are alleged to have stolen a court record with the warrant of arrest application against Shongwe.’
It added, ‘They were charged with obstructing the course of justice and theft.
‘The second duo to appear was Judge Mpendulo and the Registrar, who appeared in almost all the charges. They too, were charged together with the CJ for their involvement in the CJ versus SRA [Swaziland Revenue Authority] saga. They were charged with corruption and obstructing the course of justice.’
The SRA saga relates to the manner in which Ramodibedi received a gratuity. The Observer Saturday had previously reported that Simelane and Ramodibedi were charged with, ‘conflict of interest, defeating the ends of justice and abuse of power in that the Chief Justice Ramodibedi allocated his case of contesting his E128,000 [US$12,800] gratuity against the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) to Justice Mpendulo Simelane in full knowledge that Judge Simelane in his then capacity as Registrar of the High Court, made written and oral representations on the chief justice’s behalf to the SRA.’
In its report on Wednesday, the Observer said, ‘The last to appear were Judge Annandale, Fikile and Judge Simelane. Here, the three were charged with the role they played in trying to rescind the warrants of arrest against the CJ and Judge Simelane.’
The four accused were remanded to the Mbabane police station cells, pending further police inquiries.
SWAZI MINISTER OF JUSTICE ARRESTED
CJ HAS HISTORY OF ABUSE OF POWER
CJ BID TO CANCEL OWN ARREST WARRANT
ARREST WARRANT FOR CHIEF JUSTICE
CJ AND JAILED JOURNALISTS