Swaziland Solidarity Network statement
April 18th, 2013
Swaziland’s judiciary shoots itself in the foot
The Nation Magazine’s Editor faces two years imprisonment after king Mswati’s courts found him guilty of “scandalizing the court”.
In what is the worst violation of the right to Freedom Of Speech, the controversial judge Bheki Maphalala has found Bheki Makhubu guilty of contempt of court for publishing two articles which questioned the manner in which the judiciary handled a case where several civic groups had filed a case against the government’s refusal to allow political parties to function in the country’s political landscape.
In his judgment, the judge stated that, “The November 2009 article constituted contempt of court by insinuating that the decision of the Supreme Court had been predicated on a particular agenda and not based on law. He said the February 2010 article was a ‘scurrilous’ abuse of Ramodibedi [and was] calculated to undermine or lower the dignity of the Judge and to bring due administration of justice into disrepute."
In the High Court of Public opinion where the Chief Justice Ramodibedi is viewed as the worst Chief Justice the country has ever seen, the king’s lap-dog and currently occupies his position unconstitutionally, the entire case is a witch hunt and a political manoeuvre on the country’s only independent magazine and the government’s most fearless critic.
The mere fact that the judge has allowed his political superiors to use the courts to suppress media freedom is the biggest show of contempt for the country’s laws and its judiciary. The judgment against Makhubu and the subsequent attention which it has generated has caused far much more harm to the reputation of the country’s judiciary than the said article ever could.
As the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN] we condemn this outright declaration of war against media freedom and call upon all the country’s media institutions to rally behind Makhubu in his quest for justice, which will have an impact on all media outlets in the country.
MISA: EDITOR’S CONVICTION ‘BRUTAL’
EDITOR’S CONTEMPT SENTENCE ‘SHOCKING’