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OPINION:Commission of Enquiry into allegations of corruption within Master of the High Court’s Office must be independent,to expose those ‘stealing’ from the dead.

Friday, 19th January, 2024

The Commission of Enquiry into the allegations of corruption within the Office of the Master of the High Court is not only in the public interest but,it seeks to demand justice for the dead whose properties were allegedly looted by those in power and/or in positions of significant trust.

As a result,the decision by the Law Society of Swaziland(LSS) to denounce the establishment of the Commission by Chief Justice(CJ) Bheki Maphalala on the basis that,the appointment violated the provisions of the Commission of Enquiry Act of 1963 should be applauded.

An investigation by its nature, is a process that seeks to establish facts and gather evidence to substantiate allegations of wrongdoing.

But,the foundation that determines the credibility of the findings,is the establishment of a credible investigation team.

In this regard,the Commission of Enquiry must be credible to produce a credible comprehensive report.

It should be noted that,apart from the fact that,he violated the law, Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala is not a credible Judge and cannot appoint a Commission of Enquiry that commands public confidence.

The Commission of Enquiry was discredited shortly after the Chief Justice announced the Judges tasked with investigating the Master of the High Court’s Office.

Worth-noting, some of these Judges have no scandals but the Head of the Judiciary who appointed them is not credible,he opted to disregard the law just to exercise power and cover-up his alleged corrupt practices within that Office.

The Commission of Enquiry Act of 1963 is very clear and therefore, that Commission was supposed to be appointed by the Minister.

Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala may have received information suggesting that,Prince Simelane was about to appoint the Commission to investigate what is happening within the Master of the High Court’s Office and opted to pre-announce his own Commission with Judges loyal to him.

But apart from violating the law,Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala failed to take into account the fact that,a Commission of Enquiry must consists of members with different skills relevant to the investigation terms of reference.

In this regard,the Chief Justice appointed only Judges to investigate the Master of the High Court’s Office that deals with monies,Judges are lawyers by profession not Accountants.

Even though appointing a Judge as the Chairperson of a Commission of Enquiry enhances the credibility of the Commission but,the process of establishing it must be in accordance with the law and demonstrate a desire or willingness to produce a credible comprehensive report. 

Furthermore,the members appointed must bring-in a variety of skills including the ability to detect fraud,in this regard,officers of the Auditor General(AG),Accountant General or any credible individual with similar skills was supposed to be appointed and be part of the Commission.

The Judges appointed by the Chief Justice as members of the Commission of Enquiry into allegations of corruption within the Master’s Office must just resign,the Commission must be established by the relevant appointing authority and that is Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Prince Simelane.

OPINION:Commission of Enquiry into allegations of corruption within Master of the High Court’s Office must be independent,to expose those ‘stealing’ from the dead.
Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala.