/ 21 April 2015

Swaziland’s judiciary and government rocked by arrests

Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi Judge Mpendulo Simelane.
Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi Judge Mpendulo Simelane.

Swaziland’s justice minister Sibusiso Shongwe and two judges, Mphendulo Simelane and Jacobus Annandale, were arrested on Monday at their respective homes, according to that country’s Broadcasting and Information Service.

Justice Simelane was reportedly arrested at his village home at Mkhulamini in the Manzini region. The police then arrested Justice Jacobus Annandale at his home in Pine Valley, outside Mbabane. Shongwe, was arrested around lunch time at his Mahlanya residence.

According to the radio evening news bulletin, Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, who allegedly skipped Swaziland for South Africa on Wednesday last week, returned home on Friday evening.  Since Saturday, the police have tried to arrest Ramodibedi, who remained behind locked doors at his plush Dalrich residence.  The police refrained from breaking into his house after receiving instructions from their superiors. 

Judge Simelane is charged for defeating the ends of justice.  This relates to his failure to recuse himself in a matter between Ramodibedi and the Swaziland Revenue Authority.  Simelane subsequently ruled in favour Ramodibedi.  As a former high court registrar, Simelane had participated in a dispute between Ramodibedi and the revenue authority over the taxation of the chief justice’s R128000 gratuity. Justice Annandale is also to be charged with defeating the ends of justice

Shongwe, on the other hand, is charged with corruption, for allegedly failing to account for a R2-million deposit in his trust account.  

Fled to SA
Ramodibedi’s whereabouts were surrounded by mystery last week, after he left his body guards stranded at the Oshoeck border gate, while he crossed over to South Africa with his family. 

Ramodibedi allegedly left the country, despite a royal summons from King Mswati III.

He reportedly received the message while at the border post, but proceeded with his trip.

Government spokesperson, Percy Simelane , confirmed that Ramodibedi had skipped the country and that government officials were unaware of his whereabouts.