The abuse of power hearing against Swaziland’s suspended Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi started and concluded on Tuesday (9 June 2015), even though he was not present and no defence was heard.
Ramodibedi had asked for the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) hearing to be postponed for a third time in two weeks because he was sick. The hearing at Ezulwini was told he had been taken to the Mbabane Clinic that morning after suffering dizzy spells.
Members of the JSC dismissed the request, saying that he had been told the hearing would go ahead even if he failed to appear. One of the JSC members Musa Dlamini reportedly accused Ramodibedi of deliberately stalling the proceedings.
Ramodibedi was first issued with a warrant for his arrest on 17 April 2015. He faced 23 charges but would not surrender to police, instead preferring self-imposed house arrest for more than five weeks. These charges were later reduced to eight and then to three.
1. Abuse of office – In the allocation of the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) matter which was heard to hear a case brought by Ramodibedi against the SRA for taxing his gratuity to the amount of E128 000 (US$12,800).
2. Abuse of office – In the hearing of the Impunzi Wholesalers (PTY) Ltd v The Swaziland Revenue Authority, in which it is alleged wealthy businessmen offered judges E2 million to help them win their case against the SRA involving the importation of goods into the kingdom.
3. Abuse of office in order to achieve an ulterior motive – In the hearing of the Estate Policy matter, where it is alleged Ramodibedi appointed three acting High Court judges to hear the case when their terms of office had expired.
Ramodibedi reportedly dismissed his defence lawyer in the run up to the hearing.
The JSC will now report to King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, before a verdict is issued.
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