Swaziland’s Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, who is subject to an arrest warrant for alleged abuse of power, ordered the warrant to be declared void.
As a result High Court Judge Jacobus Annadale visited the Chief Justice at his home where he had locked himself in to avoid arrest. There, Judge Annadale signed an order rescinding the arrest warrants.
When Judge Annadale tried to execute the order, police officers refused to accept it and the Chief Justice remained in his house.
According to the Observer Sunday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who, as absolute monarch in Swaziland appointed Ramodibedi as Chief Justice, Annadale said the original arrest warrants were invalid because, ‘no clearance had been sought with the relevant authorities [the King]’.
The Observer reported, ‘Judge Annadale is likely to be implicated in impeachment proceedings that the CJ will possibly face regarding his conduct in carrying out his duties as head of the judiciary.’
The Observer added, ‘It is understood that Annadale together with Judge Mpendulo and High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi assembled at the CJ’s house yesterday morning [18 April 2015] from around 9am until noon where they drew up the order nullifying the arrest warrants.
‘According to sources who saw the order by Judge Annadale, the warrants were being declared null and void because no clearance had been sought with the relevant authorities.
‘It is not known who the authorities are but Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Sibusiso Shongwe has previously publicly stated that the CJ is answerable to no one else except His Majesty.’
The newspaper added, ‘Yesterday afternoon, High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi brandished Judge Annandale’s order to police officers and ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] officials who had come to effect an arrest on the CJ.
‘She is said to have informed the police and ACC officials that they could no longer go ahead with the arrest because it had been overturned.
‘“But she was told point blank that the order would not be entertained and respected because it was not done in court but in the house of the chief justice, who, moreover, was subject of the matter at hand,” a police source divulged.
‘This stance is said to have left Nhlabatsi gobsmacked and he communicated same to the CJ who then elected to lock himself in his house to evade arrest.’
ARREST WARRANT FOR CHIEF JUSTICE
CJ AND JAILED JOURNALISTS