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Judges without security as aggrieved Supreme Court Registrar Banele Ngcamphalala ‘disappears’ without signing payment, courts grounded amid King’s delay to appoint Judicial Service Commission(JSC).

Monday, 1st July, 2024

MBABANE:Banele Ngcamphalala,the Registrar of the Supreme Court and Controlling Officer of the Judiciary, has allegedly ‘disappeared’ without signing payments for Fidelity Services Group,leaving Judges at high risk and without security.

Ngcamphalala,the Acting Judge of the Industrial Court,is alleged to have expressed her frustration about the delay in the appointment of the Judiciary Service Commission(JSC) that is supposed to confirm her appointment as a permanent Judge of the Industrial Court.

Acting Judge Ngcamphalala,according to insiders,subsequently took a leave saying she wanted to rest amid the now hostile working environment within the Judiciary.

As reported by this publication,it is alleged that,the Judiciary has been grounded amid secretive moves to remove Chief Justice(CJ) Bheki Maphalala, a new Chief Justice is expected to be the Chairperson of the Judiciary Services Commission(JSC) as per the Constitution.

Reached for comments on Monday afternoon,Banele Ngcamphalala,the Acting Industrial Court Judge and Supreme Court Registrar,asked not to comment further about the withdrawal of security within the Judges homes,saying the matter had nothing to do with her.

“Hawu ye-Zweli,this has nothing to do with me,please call those who are in the office.Ngicela kungasho lutfo”,said the Supreme Court Registrar and Acting Judge of the Industrial Court.

Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala declined to comment about the matter.

But some Judges who spoke to this Swaziland News on condition of anonymity confirmed that,the security has been withdrawn by Fidelity Services from their homes.

“It’s true there’s no security in my home but you can also confirm with other Judges lobatayele batakutjela and confirm as well”, said a Judge.

Efforts to reach Douglas Schultz of the Fidelity Services Group proved unsuccessful at the time of compiling this report, he had not responded to our email.

But when responding to this Swaziland News earlier,King Mswati’s Spokesperson Percy Simelane said,announcing the Judicial Service Commission(JSC) “is a process,” adding that,he was not sure when the announcement would be made.

“Our experience is that there is no calendar date for the appointments in question and that to pool such a team is a process and not an occasion.It would,therefore,be difficult to figure out when the announcement will be made.We believe stakeholders too,would rather have it done right for many weeks than rushed to meet a deadline half-heatedly”, said the King’s Spokesperson.

The grounding of operations within the Judiciary comes amid moves to remove Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala on allegations of fraud and corruption,it is alleged that,the matter “is being handled at the highest level”.

But the delay by the King to appoint the Judicial Service Commission(JSC) has grounded the Judiciary as Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala cannot renew contracts for Court Clerks or Acting Judges and this,include other staff who are key in the operations of the Judiciary.

Reached for comments,human rights lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi told this publication that,the delay in the appointment of the Judicial Service Commission(JSC) is affecting the operations of the Judiciary.

“In fact there’s no Judiciary without the JSC,it is the JSC that employs or recommend the dismissal of judicial officers including Judges.The withdrawal of security within the Judges homes undermines the independence of the Judiciary because in order for Judges to be independent,they must be paid decent salaries and their homes must be protected.Now in the absence of security, the Judges might fear to issue judgments against alleged criminals because those convicts might one day invade their homes and attack them”, said the lawyer.

Judges without security as aggrieved Supreme Court Registrar Banele Ngcamphalala ‘disappears’ without signing payment, courts grounded amid King’s delay to appoint Judicial Service Commission(JSC).
Acting Industrial Court Judge Banele Ngcamphalala(pic: Times).