Swaziland’s Chief Justice dismissed an attempt by the kingdom’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to arrest a cabinet minister because King Mswati had not given his permission.
CJ Michael Ramodibedi dismissed an application by the ACC for an arrest warrant and a search warrant against Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Sibusiso Shongwe on Monday (13 April 2015) because ‘an arrest cannot be done against His Majesty’s sitting minister without proper clearance’.
He also ordered that no other judge in Swaziland should deal with the matter.
In Swaziland, King Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch and he hand-picks all government ministers. If the court had issued an arrest warrant it would have been seen as a criticism of the King’s ability to choose suitable people for ministerial office.
The Chief Justice, who was also appointed by King Mswati, will only act in the case on the instructions of the King.
The ACC alleged that in December 2014 a total of E2 million (US$200,000) cash was deposited into the minister’s law firm’s trust account. The ACC wrote to Shongwe to ask where the money came from but he did not respond.
The ACC also alleged that E1.3 million of the money had been disbursed from the account.
In a letter to the ACC, Shongwe said the money was being held on trust for a client of his law firm.
He also alleged in the letter that the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini was trying to ruin his reputation and the PM had threatened at a Cabinet meeting that he would kill him.
The ACC allegations Shongwe remain unresolved.