CLARIFICATION (21 April 2015) Information received from Swaziland indicated that the CJ was still holed up in his house but that Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Sibusiso Shongwe had been arrested along with two judges; Mpendulo Simelane, Jacobus Annandale and High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi.
The Swaziland Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is expected in court on Tuesday (21 April 2015) at the start of a process that could see him charged with 23 offences, including abuse of power.
An arrest warrant for Ramodibedi was made on Friday (17 April 2015) but he barricaded himself in his home to evade police.
A warrant for the arrest of High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelane was made at the same time.
Armed riot police stood by outside Ramodibedi’s house for two days waiting for the order to enter, but it never came.
It was reported that water and electricity supplies were cut off at the house in an attempt to flush Ramodibedi out of his home.
Unconfirmed reports on social media said that Ramodibedi was hoping that King Mswati III would order the arrest warrant to be torn up. Instead, it is reported the King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, confirmed he should be arrested.
If this proves correct, it will surprise many observers. The King personally re-appointed Ramodibedi to office in contravention of the kingdom’s constitution. It states that the Chief Justice should be a Swazi national, but Ramodibedi was born in Lesotho.
Ramodibedi has been a staunch supporter of the King and even went to the extent in 2011 of issuing a directive that the King was immune from any claims made directly or indirectly against him in a court of law. This legally placed the King above the law.
Ramodibedi faces at least 23 charges, according to the Observer Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by the King.
The newspaper reported, ‘Their charges are that of 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.
‘Their act has eroded the confidence of the public in the country’s justice system. The Chief Justice, who had gone on a short trip to South Africa, returned to the country on Friday [17 April 2015] afternoon, amid reports that the ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] wanted to get a warrant of arrest against him and Judge Mpendulo.’
CJ HAS HISTORY OF ABUSE OF POWER
CJ BID TO CANCEL OWN ARREST WARRANT
ARREST WARRANT FOR CHIEF JUSTICE
CJ AND JAILED JOURNALISTS