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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

‘ABUSE OF POWER’ INQUIRY POSTPONED

The inquiry into the alleged abuse of power of Swaziland’s Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi opened on Monday (25 May 2015) and was postponed to allow him more time to prepare his defence.

Ramodibedi was first issued with a warrant for his arrest on 17 April 2015. He faced 23 charges and he has been under self-imposed house arrest since.

He did attend the inquiry set up by the Swazi Judicial Service Commission and successfully argued he was not ready to go ahead. The inquiry has been postponed to 3 June 2015.

The original 23 charges have been consolidated into eight new charges.

 As published by the Swazi Observer, the charges are:

 1. Abuse of office – In the allocation of the Swaziland Revenue Authority matter

The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that he allocated his case against SRA to Justice Mpendulo Simelane in full knowledge that Judge Simelane, in his then capacity as Registrar of the High Court of Swaziland had made both written and oral representations to the SRA on behalf of the chief justice in the same matter and was accordingly conflicted. This the chief justice did unlawfully and with the intention to obtain a judgement in his favour and or an undue benefit from the SRA in an amount of E128 800.75 

ALTERNATIVELY

The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that he allocated his personal court case against the Swaziland Revenue Authority to Justice Mpendulo Simelane in full knowledge that Judge Simelane in his then capacity as Registrar of the High Court had made oral and written representations to the Swaziland Revenue Authority on behalf of the chief justice in the same matter prior to the institution of the court proceedings. By doing so the CJ eroded the confidence of the public.

 2. Abuse of office – In the hearing of the Impunzi Wholesalers (PTY) Ltd v The Swaziland Revenue Authority


The Chief Justice Michael Mathelira Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that he undermined the confidence of the public in the country’s justice system by sitting as the presiding Judge in the appeal of Impunzi Wholesalers (Pty) Ltd v Swaziland Revenue Authority at a time when he was personally engaged in pending litigation against SRA and as such was conflicted.

 3. Abuse of office in order to achieve an ulterior motive – In the hearing of the Estate Policy matter.
The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that contrary to the integrity expected of a judicial officer he directed that the application of Wezzy Ndzimandze and Others v Titselo Ndzimandze and others (Estate Policy Case) be heard and proceed to

3.1 Frame the issues for determination by the court
3.2 Personally enrolled the application when the applicants had withdrawn the matter 
3.3 Insisted on the application proceeding in circumstances where the applicant’s attorney had withdrawn as attorneys of record
3.4 Manipulated the outcome of the matter by giving instructions to the presiding judges

This demonstrated vested interest in the outcome of the matter in order to achieve an ulterior motive and constituted serious misbehaviour. 

ALTERNATIVELY 

The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that he unlawfully directed the application of Wezzy Ndzimandze and others v Titselo Ndzimandze and Others (Estate Policy case) be heard well aware that this was contrary to Constitutional provision S34 (2) which required that such matters be dealt with through the promulgation of a legislation in order to achieve an ulterior motive. 
       
 4. The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that on or about the year 2014 in his capacity as Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission he advised on and or authorised the reappointment of Lillian Zwane, Deputy Commissioner Operations of the Anti Corruption Commission for a third term in breach of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 2006 which provides for a maximum of two terms in respect of that position.

5. The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that on or about the year 2014 he unlawfully obstructed investigations by the ACC into allegations of misconduct of Lillian Zwane, the Deputy Commissioner of the ACC by failing and or neglecting and or refusing to take action on a report filed by the commissioner of the ACC. 

6. The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that on diverse occasions he instructed his government appointed chauffer to drive him out of the country when the driver, contrary to Cabinet Circular No1/2009 and government policy on external travel had not been authorised by the head of government to leave Swaziland and further caused his chauffer and security officers to incur or claim travel and subsistence allowances in respect of trips not authorised by government contrary to the said circular and policy. 

7. The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that on or about January 2015 and contrary to the integrity expected of a judicial officer and in contravention of the Government Stores Regulations he travelled to the Republic of South Africa in a Swaziland government issued motor vehicle without his designated chauffer.

 8. The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is guilty of serious misbehaviour in that on about August 2014 contrary to the integrity expected of a judicial officer and in breach of the principle of the independence of the Judiciary he unlawfully directed Acting High Court Justices Dlamini B.S. Dlamini A AND Simelane M to decide the matter wherein the Law Society of Swaziland sought the removal from office of Justice Mpendulo Simelane in favour of the Swaziland Government.  

See also

CJ HAS HISTORY OF ABUSE OF POWER
SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS: KING’S WORD IS LAW
JURISTS: DEEP FLAWS IN JUSTICE SYSTEM

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