The inquiry into the alleged abuse of power by Swaziland’s suspended Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi will be held in public, it has been announced.
But, it is not clear whether Ramodibedi, who has been holed up in his house for more than four weeks after an arrest warrant was issued against him, will attend.
The arrest warrant against Ramodibedi was later withdrawn and he was suspended from office and summoned to appear before a Judicial Service Commission (JSC) hearing.
Acting Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala told the Saturday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, Swaziland’s absolute monarch, the hearing would last for three days, starting 25 May 2015.
The paper reported that initially Ramodibedi had been served with 23 charges but these had now been consolidated and the number reduced.
The newspaper quoted Maphalala saying, ‘The JSC has decided that this will be a public enquiry into the allegations levelled against the chief justice. This is done in terms of section 158 of the Constitution.
‘Upon conclusion of the enquiry we will submit our report to His Majesty the King for his decision.’
The venue for the hearing has yet to be announced.
Ramodibedi has refused to accept his suspension and he is not expected to cooperate with the JSC.
Maphalala said if Ramodibedi failed to appear the hearing would go on without him. ‘If he decides not to attend, the JSC will proceed to lead listen to the witnesses who would be called in to give evidence of the said allegations.
‘It would be an unfortunate thing if he decides to miss an opportunity to defend those allegations levelled against him. The JSC will be forced to proceed with its report and forward its recommendations to the appointing authority [the King],’ he told the newspaper.
CJ HAS HISTORY OF ABUSE OF POWER
SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS: KING’S WORD IS LAW
JURISTS: DEEP FLAWS IN JUSTICE SYSTEM