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JUDGE: Chief Justice is interfering with the independence of Supreme Court Judges in MPs’ case.

Friday, 11th March, 2022

MBABANE: Chief Justice (CJ)  Bheki Maphalala is allegedly interfering with the independence of the Supreme Court Judges in the pro-democracy Members of Parliament(MPs) Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube’s high profile case.

This was disclosed by a Judge who spoke to this journalist shortly after this Swaziland News published a leaked internal correspondence where CJ Bheki Maphalala was directing Supreme Court Judge Jacobus Annandale to write a judgement.

The Judge whose name cannot be revealed for ethical reasons said the directive by the Chief Justice suggesting that Judge Annandale must write the judgement amounts to interference with the independence of the Judge.

“By directing as to who will write the judgment he is interfering with the independence of the judge.What if Annandale holds a minority decision? Who will write the majority decision? It is better for the judges on the panel to decide among themselves as to who will write the judgment-that is independence of judges.No manipulation by him thus promoting the rule of law”, said the Honorable Judge.

The directive allegedly signed by Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala is contained in a leaked internal correspondence between the Judges that exposes how the CJ interferes with the independence of the Supreme Court being the highest court in eSwatini.

“You are directed to hear the matter on Friday 25th March, 2022. The Honorable Justice JP Annandale will preside over the matter and further write the judgement. Any Judge is at liberty to write a dissenting judgement”, reads the directive signed by Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala.

Questions were sent to Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala,however, he had not responded at the time  of compiling this report.

Reached for comments, Thulani Rudolf Maseko, a highly regarded human rights lawyer in eSwatini described the directive by the Chief Justice as interference with the independence of the Supreme Court Judges.

“The Chief Justice has this tendency of directing who should write the judgement, Judges should decide among themselves who they think should write the judgement. In cases heard by a full bench, the judges normally meet to deliberate on submissions from the lawyers. Each Judge will indicate his view on the matter and based on those discussions, they will then allocate who among themselves they think can write the judgement,” he said.

The human rights lawyer said the directive by the Chief Justice who decided who should write the judgement takes away the independence of the court that hears the matter.

“We don’t know on what basis he decided to say, this Judge or the other must write the judgement. So it’s a practice that, in my view, undermines the independence and the impartiality of the court that will hear the matter”, said the human rights lawyer.


JUDGE: Chief Justice is interfering with the independence of Supreme Court Judges in MPs’ case.
Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala.