Swaziland High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelane and Judge Jacobus Annandale were both arrested Monday (20 April 2015) by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and officers from the Police Fraud and Commercial Crime Unit.
The Swaziland High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi was also arrested.
They face charges including defeating the ends of justice and conflict of interest.
They are all involved in the case involving Swaziland Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, who faces arrest on 23 charges, including abuse of power.
There was confusion on Monday (20 April 2015) about the status of the Chief Justice. An arrest warrant was issued on Friday and he has been holed up in his house in Mbabane since then. Usually well informed sources said on Monday that Ramodibedi had been arrested and taken to Mbabane Police Station.
This proved incorrect and the CJ remained in his house. Armed police and state riot police have been outside the house for several days. It is unclear why they have not entered the house by force. The police in Swaziland have a deserved reputation for smashing their way into houses of people they believe to be pro-democracy activists and arresting the occupants.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, reported on Tuesday (21 April 2015), ‘Judge Simelane was held for his part in the Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi versus the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) E128,000 (US$12,800) gratuity case.
‘Simelane presided over the matter, where the CJ wanted his tax gratuity from the taxman and ruled in favour of his boss knowing very well that he (Simelane) was part of the CJ’s team which presented written and oral presentations whilst he was still the Registrar of the High Court.
‘He refused to declare his interest and recuse himself in the matter.
‘The CJ eventually won the case with Judge Simelane ordering that SRA should refund the CJ his E128,000 plus interest.
‘The SRA is currently appealing the decision by Judge Simelane at the Supreme Court.
‘He was rounded up by officials from the Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday morning. His warrant of arrest was issued by High Court Principal Judge Stanley Maphalala last Friday. It was issued together with that of his boss the Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.
‘Their act is said to have eroded the confidence of the public in the country’s justice system.
‘Simelane has only served a year and three months as a judge of the country’s highest court having been elected into the bench on February 14, 2014. Judge Simelane has been appointed into the Industrial Court Appeal Court and full benches at the High Court under controversial circumstances.
‘Annandale, a former acting chief justice, on the other hand is alleged to have been arrested for trying to rescind the warrant of arrest issued by Principal Judge Maphalala against Chief Justice Ramodibedi on Saturday.
‘Justice Annandale’s act is said to have been both procedurally wrong and corrupt.
‘He was also rounded up by the officials from the ACC together with officers from the Fraud and Commercial Crimes Unit at his home at Pine Valley yesterday morning.’
The newspaper said the High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi had also been arrested.
The newspaper reported, ‘Nhlabatsi is alleged to have waved a fake order rescinding the warrants of arrest against Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and Judge Mpendulo Simelane. The order was issued by High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale on Saturday.
‘She together with Annandale is facing charges of defeating the ends of justice for such an act.’
The arrested were expected to make appearances at the Mbabane Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday (21 April 2015).
SWAZI MINISTER OF JUSTICE ARRESTED
ARREST WARRANT FOR CHIEF JUSTICE
CJ BID TO CANCEL OWN ARREST WARRANT
CJ HAS HISTORY OF ABUSE OF POWER
CJ AND JAILED JOURNALISTS