The Swaziland Chief Justice (CJ) Michael Ramodibedi, who has been holed up in his house for more than two weeks, resisting arrest on abuse of power charges has asked for a free passage to the South African border so he can escape all charges made against him.
The demand is one of five Ramodibedi is reported to have made to bring an end to the stand-off. In all cases Ramodibedi is allowed to escape charges and a court appearance.
The Observer Sunday, a newspaper in effect owned by Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III, reported (3 May 2015), ‘A prominent member of society who is close to traditional authorities as well as the top government hierarchy and is intimate with the situation around the stand-off revealed the cards that the CJ has put to the table and now awaits government’s move.’
The demands are:
1. Ramodibedi is allowed to meet with King Mswati. The King, as absolute monarch, can make any decisions he wishes. He appointed Ramodibedi to the position and it is his decision, notwithstanding anything a court might decide, whether Ramodibedi should be punished. Ramodibedi reportedly believes the King did not give permission for him to be arrested.
2. Ramodibedi will agree to step down as CJ if the impeachment process being pursued by government is set aside. He reportedly wants a consensus that his relationship with government has broken down to irreparable levels and therefore all parties should go their separate routes.
3. Ramodibedi, who is a Lesotho citizen, says he has a diplomatic passport and he is entitled to diplomatic immunity and therefore he is not subjected to lawsuits or prosecution under the laws of Swaziland. The only way for him to be brought before the law would be if Lesotho revoked his diplomatic status.
4. Ramodibedi still considers himself to be the Swazi Chief Justice and none of the processes that are provided in the constitution relating to the removal of a CJ have been implemented. The King is the only person who removes the CJ on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission (CSJ). Ramodibedi is head of the CSJ.
5 Ramodibedi has reportedly given the government the option of allowing him to leave his home and drive directly to the Ngwenya border post with South Africa. Swazi police would not have the powers to arrest him in South Africa.
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