Bheki Makhubu, , the editor of the Nation magazine, who was fined E200 000 and faces two years in jail if he does not pay, after being convicted of scandalising the courts by writing two articles criticising the Swazi judiciary, says he was never given a chance by the Swaziland High Court to put his side of the story.
In an appeal to the Swazi Supreme Court, Makhubu says his sentence was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Makhubu and the Nation publisher, Swaziland Independent Publishers, were fined a total of E200,000 after two articles were published in 2009 and 2010 criticising the judges and in particular Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.
In his formal appeal against the sentence, Makhubu argues that the very imposition of the sentence at all was unlawful and constitutional.
The appeal states, ‘The court dealt with the sentence;
- Without advising the appellants that they had been found guilty of contempt;
- Without affording the appellants any opportunity whatsoever for adducing evidence in mitigation;
- Without hearing evidence whatsoever on sentence.’
Makhubu argues that the sentence was thus imposed in breach of the most fundamental right to be heard on punishment ‘and is the consequence of the procedure permitted and adopted by the court in direct conflict with the most basic rights of all accused people’.
It is thought the appeal will not be heard until November 2013.
‘EDITOR’S APPEAL TO BE HEARD NOVEMBER’
EDITOR FINE ‘MEANT TO SILENCE PEOPLE’
EDITOR: ‘SUN SETS ON MEDIA FREEDOM’
EDITOR SET FOR TWO YEARS IN JAIL