Swazi king sacks justice minister Shongwe

Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and Mphendulo Simelane. (The Nation)

Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and Mphendulo Simelane. (The Nation)

Former police commissioner, Edgar Hillary, was appointed to succeed Shongwe.  

Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini said yesterday that Shongwe’s arrest and those of two judges on Monday showed he “lacked the integrity” to be a minister.

“Owing to the emerging state of affairs it is necessary to make the requisite change within Cabinet. Following a recommendation to His Majesty, Senator Edgar Hillary has been graciously appointed by His Majesty to the position of Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

“Senator Hillary brings to Cabinet a great deal of experience and previous career path that give Their Majesties and government the assurance that he will be fully capable of meeting the demands of the position,” the prime minister said.

Dlamini confirmed Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi was resisting arrest. He is holed up in his residence outside the capital.

Two justices, Mphendulo Simelane and Jacobus Annandale, were also arrested on Monday for allegedly defeating the ends of justice.

Dlamini said the criminal investigation was still at an early stage.

“A fundamental concept underpinning the laws of our land is that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The process of proving guilt has yet to commence, during which all allegations will have to be answered by those accused of any crimes.”

He said Chief Justice Ramodibedi was safe and was not under any threat of physical harm.  The matter had been reported to Ramodibedi’s home country, Lesotho.

Dogged by controversy
Ramodibedi, who was president of Lesotho’s appeal court, resigned in April last year in the face of impeachment proceedings against him.

The Mail and Guardian reported at the time that he was facing an impeachment tribunal in Maseru on charges that included alleged insurance fraud and other charges of alleged improper behaviour in Lesotho.

A number of the charges related to actions in Swaziland, where Ramodibedi’s tenure as chief justice was also dogged by controversy.



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