Swazi pre­mier ap­peals to Mo­sisili over Ramod­ibedi

. . . calls on pre­mier to per­suade Jus­tice Ramod­ibedi to sur­ren­der

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

SWAZI Prime Min­is­ter, Barn­abas Sibu­siso Dlamini, has re­quested his Le­sotho coun­ter­part, Pakalitha Mo­sisili to “per­suade” Jus­tice Michael Ramod­ibedi to sur­ren­der to the po­lice.

Mr Ramod­ibedi — a Mosotho who has been Swazi­land’s Chief Jus­tice since 2010 — has re­fused to come out of his man­sion since the High Court or­dered his ar­rest two weeks ago.

The for­mer Le­sotho Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent faces a raft of charges re­lat­ing to con­flict of in­ter­est, de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice and abuse of power.

How­ever, the Swazi au­thor­i­ties have failed to ar­rest Mr Ramod­ibedi be­cause he has bar­ri­caded him­self in his res­i­dence. Ini­tially, the chief jus­tice (CJ) had said he would only come out of the house if a high-rank­ing Le­sotho gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial was present. Le­sotho’s High Com­mis­sioner to Swazi­land, ’Male­jaka Le­tooane, sub­se­quently trav­elled to Swazi­land on Wed­nes­day last week, but failed to con­vince Mr Ramod­ibedi to sur­ren­der. She left Mba­bane on Satur­day soon af­ter brief­ing the me­dia, along­side pre­mier Dlamini, about her abortive mission.

Ms Le­tooane on Satur­day told the Swazi press: “My man­date was very clear and very sim­ple. Firstly, the King­dom of Le­sotho wanted me to come and get first im­pres­sion of what is hap­pen­ing. Se­condly, I was sent to get the side of the Swazi­land gov­ern­ment on this mat­ter. Thirdly, I had to see the chief jus­tice and also see how his fam­ily is do­ing and this is some­thing I achieved yes­ter­day. Le­sotho isn’t here to tell Swazi­land ei­ther to stop the in­ves­ti­ga­tion or de­ter­mine the mat­ter in any way. Th­ese are two coun­tries that are sovereign and they have their own ways of deal­ing with such mat­ters.”

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to a con­fi­den­tial let­ter ob­tained from Swazi sources by the Le­sotho Times, Dr Dlamini on Sun­day wrote to Dr Mo­sisili seek­ing his in­ter­ven­tion in the im­passe, fail­ing which Swazi­land’s law-en­force­ment agents would break into Mr Ramod­ibedi’s res­i­dence and ar­rest him.

The let­ter, dated 26 April 2015 and head­lined, ‘ RE­QUEST FOR YOUR EX­CEL­LENCY’S IN­TER­VEN­TION IN RE — THE KING VS MICHAEL RAMOD­IBEDI HIGH COURT OF SWAZI­LAND, CRIM­I­NAL CASES NOS 188/2015, 190/2015 AND 191/2015’, reads: “His Ex­cel­lency would be aware that one na­tional of Le­sotho in the name of Mr Michael M Ramod­ibedi based in Swazi­land and em­ployed as Chief Jus­tice of Swazi­land, has been charged with var­i­ous crim­i­nal of­fences.

“Th­ese charges are in con­tra­ven­tion of the Pre­ven­tion of Cor­rup­tion Act of 2006 and also charged un­der the com­mon law of­fences of de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice, in­clud­ing but not limited to, where he at­tempted to over­turn a war­rant of ar­rest law­fully is­sued by the High Court of Swazi­land.

“It may please you, Your Ex­cel­lency, to note that sev­eral at­tempts, span­ning over seven days, to serve Mr Ramod­ibedi or ex­e­cute the war­rant of ar­rest against him, have failed be­cause Mr Ramod­ibedi has locked him­self in his gov­ern­ment-al­lo­cated house, thus pre­vent­ing the ex­e­cu­tion of the war­rant of ar­rest.

“Your Ex­cel­lency, may it be noted too, that one of the avail­able op­tions to the gov­ern­ment of Swazi­land, af­ter per­sua­sion has failed, is to use min­i­mum and ap­pro­pri­ate force to ef­fect the ar­rest. The gov­ern­ment of Swazi­land has tried and failed to per­suade Mr Ramod­ibedi to come out and be ar­rested as per the court or­der.

“Pursuant to the fact that per­sua­sion has yielded no re­sults, April 13: Anti-cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (ACC) team ap­plies for a war­rant of ar­rest against Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Sibu­siso Shongwe, which was dis­missed by Chief Jus­tice Ramod­ibedi, in­sist­ing such ac­tion can­not be taken against a min­is­ter with­out fol­low­ing proper pro­ce­dures.

April 14: The rea­son why Mr Shongwe is wanted by the ACC is re­vealed. A mys­te­ri­ous sum of E2mil­lion ( M2m) was de­posited into his law firm’s trust ac­count and he had re­fused to co­op­er­ate with the ACC team when asked to do so. Part of the money (E1.3mil­lion) had been trans­ferred from the ac­count.

April 15: Mr Ramod­ibedi is sum­moned by Labadzala (royal-ap­pointed coun­cils whose main du­ties are to look into tra­di­tional mat­ters and ad­vise the king, ac­cord­ingly) but de­fies the or­der and pro­ceeds with his trip to South Africa. He later rub­bishes claims that he has

your Ex­cel­lency, the Gov­ern­ment of Swazi­land is de­sirous, if it could be helped, to avoid the use of force as stated above, bear­ing in mind all its at­ten­dant con­se­quences. The ex­tent of our tol­er­ant level is ev­i­denced by the gov­ern­ment of Swazi­land af­ford­ing a chance to the visit of your High Com­mis­sioner, Mrs E M Le­tooane, who was able to meet with cabi­net and fur­ther vis­ited Mr Ramod­ibedi and his fam­ily. Re­gret­tably, this visit yielded no de­sired re­sults. The pref­er­ence is that Mr Ramod­ibedi, as a per­son well­versed in law, sur­ren­ders him­self to the law-en­force­ment agen­cies, that be­ing the right thing to do.

“As a last step be­fore re­sort­ing to the use of min­i­mum force, we hereby do, Your Ex­cel­lency, re­quest your as­sis­tance in per­suad­ing Mr Ramod­ibedi to sur­ren­der him­self re­signed and High Court Reg­is­trar Fik­ile Nh­la­batsi says she is un­aware of his where­abouts.

April 16: Mr Ramod­ibedi ar­rives in the coun­try and heads to Lozitha Palace, where he stays for the bet­ter part of the night with­out get­ting an au­di­ence with the king. Whilst there, High Court Prin­ci­pal Judge Stan­ley Mapha­lala is­sues war­rants of ar­rest for him and Judge Mpen­dulo Sime­lane.

April 17: Mr Ramod­ibedi locks him­self in­side his house at the judges’ com­plex at Them­be­lihle af­ter hear­ing about his pending ar­rest. Judge Mpen­dulo Sime­lane, Jus­tice Ja­cobus An­nan­dale and High Court Reg­is­trar Fik­ile Nh­la­batsi make a stop at the CJ’S house. Judge Ja­cobus An­nan­dale tries to re­scind the war­rants against his fel­low judges Sime­lane and the CJ, a move that later lands him in trou­ble.

April 18: Mr Ramod­ibedi still re­fuses to leave his house and po­lice to the Swazi­land law-en­force­ment agen­cies.

“Your Ex­cel­lency is as­sured that Mr Ramod­ibedi will be af­forded fair treat­ment, a fair trial and the re­spect that goes with his sta­tus in the same way that his other co-ac­cused (two judges of the High Court of­fi­cers keep watch 24/7. His elec­tric­ity and wa­ter sup­plies are re­port­edly cut off to force him out but he re­sists.

April 19: Judges Sime­lane and An­nan­dale are ar­rested. Later, Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs Sibu­siso Shongwe is ar­rested and led to the CJ’S house and pleads with him to hand him­self over but the CJ flatly re­fuses. The High Court Reg­is­trar is also ar­rested.

April 20: Prime Min­is­ter Sibu­siso Dlamini says the po­lice will use min­i­mum force to get Ramod­ibedi out if he con­tin­ues to lock him­self in his house.

April 21: Shongwe is fired just af­ter 18 months in of­fice. The chief jus­tice re­mains locked in his house but there is a heavy pres­ence of po­lice of­fi­cers. Na­tional Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Isaac Ma­gag­ula urges Ramod­ibedi to sur­ren­der him­self, to no avail.

and Reg­is­trar of the High Court) have been treated and are out on bail as we speak.

“Your Ex­cel­lency would ap­pre­ci­ate that this mat­ter is very ur­gent as the con­tin­ued im­passe un­der­mines the rule of law and the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice. Ac­cept Your Ex­cel­lency, the as­sur­ance of my high­est con­sid­er­a­tion: Dr Barn­abas Sibu­siso Dlamini, Prime Min­is­ter of the King­dom of Swazi­land.’

Speak­ing from Harare, zim­babwe, yes­ter­day where he was at­tend­ing a South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity meet­ing, the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, Te­bello Mets­ing, said: “I am not in the coun­try at the mo­ment so I can­not com­ment on the is­sue. Again, such com­mu­ni­ca­tion would go straight to the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice.” April 22: Gov­ern­ment Spokesper­son Percy Sime­lane says CJ could be ar­rested “in the next few days” as there were diplo­matic pro­cesses to be com­pleted.

The South­ern African Chief Jus­tices Fo­rum is­sues a state­ment urg­ing Swazi­land to han­dle the is­sue with fair­ness.

April 23: Le­sotho’s High Com­mis­sioner to Swazi­land Male­jaka Le­tooane, who is based in South Africa, goes to Swazi­land to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion.

April 25: The Le­sotho gov­ern­ment, through Le­tooane, re­veals it will not in­ter­fere with the case against the CJ.

April 26: Gov­ern­ment Spokesper­son Percy Sime­lane re­veals that there are more diplo­matic pro­cesses to be fol­lowed.

The ac­tiv­ity of po­lice of­fi­cers is no­tably less than on pre­vi­ous days although they still camp at his house. –– Swazi Ob­server.

How­ever, Mr Mets­ing said he had heard “claims” that the Swazi pre­mier had in­di­cated that he wanted to talk to Dr Mo­sisili about the is­sue dur­ing the SADC Heads of State and Gov­ern­ment Sum­mit, which ended yes­ter­day in Harare.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Mets­ing, Mr Ramod­ibedi’s re­sis­tance had now be­come “an em­bar­rass­ment” to Le­sotho.

“This is­sue is now be­com­ing an em­bar­rass­ment. I think Mr Ramod­ibedi should just co­op­er­ate be­cause the mat­ter could end up sour­ing the good re­la­tions that ex­ist be­tween the King­dom of Swazi­land and the King­dom of Le­sotho,” Mr Mets­ing said.

Mr Ramod­ibedi could not be reached for com­ment, while Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary, Moahloli Mphaka, was also un­avail­able.

Swazi­land Prime Min­is­ter Barn­abas Sibu­siso

Jus­tice Michael Ramod­ibedi.

Swazi­land Prime Min­is­ter Barn­abas Sibu­siso dlamini.

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