SA JUDGE AP­POINTED FOR IN­DUS­TRIAL COURT REG­IS­TRAR CASE

Observer on Saturday - - News - Sto­ries by Sicelo Maziya

The Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (JSC) af­ter hav­ing chal­lenges with se­cur­ing a judge to hear and de­ter­mine the case of trans­ferred Reg­is­trar of the In­dus­trial Court Agrippa Bhembe has ap­pointed a South African Judge.

This, af­ter all the Judges of the In­dus­trial Court of Eswatini re­cused them­selves as they cited close work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the Chief Jus­tice Bheki Mapha­lala. Fol­low­ing his trans­fer as Reg­is­trar of the In­dus­trial Court to Mag­is­trate at the Nh­langano Mag­is­trate Court, Bhembe filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion at the In­dus­trial Court chal­leng­ing the CJ on his trans­fer.

The JSC ap­pointed Judge John Mur­phy, who yes­ter­day heard the mat­ter at the In­dus­trial Court which is now sit­u­ated at the state of the art glass build­ing at Swazi Mo­bile.

The South African Judge heard the ar­gu­ments from both coun­sels Mandla Mkhwanazi for Bhembe and Se­nior At­tor­ney Zweli Jele of Robin­son Ber­tram who was rep­re­sent­ing the CJ.

Jus­tice Mur­phy has re­served judg­ment in the mat­ter which will be de­liv­ered 30 days from hear­ing of the mat­ter. Fol­low­ing his trans­fer early this year, Bhembe has been on gar­den leave on full pay and his fate will now be known af­ter the 30 days has lapsed.

Bhembe was not con­tent with the CJ’s move hence he ap­proached court, seek­ing an or­der re­view­ing and set­ting aside the de­ci­sion of the CJ to ap­point and trans­fer him as Nh­langano Mag­is­trate and fur­ther declar­ing the said trans­fer as un­law­ful, un­fair and ir­reg­u­lar and fur­ther ar­gued that the ap­point­ment be de­clared void ab ini­tio and with no ef­fect.

Bhembe was re­placed by Princess Khulek­ile Malinga who had been at the Supreme Court.

Ac­cord­ing to Bhembe in his pa­pers filed be­fore court, he was in­vited by the chief jus­tice with­out in­form­ing him what the pur­pose of the in­vi­ta­tion was and when in his cham­bers, the CJ in­formed him that he had been con­sid­ered for the po­si­tion of Nh­langano mag­is­trate de­spite the fact that he had never ap­plied for the po­si­tion.

Va­can­cies

The po­si­tion was amongst mag­is­trates va­can­cies that were ad­ver­tised in De­cem­ber in the lo­cal print me­dia.

Bhembe said he ex­plained to the Chief Jus­tice that he was aware of the ad­ver­tise­ments but had no in­ter­est in the po­si­tion be­cause of the work­load that comes along with it and cat­e­gor­i­cally de­clined to be con­sid­ered for that un­so­licited ap­point­ment.

“To my sur­prise and dis­may on De­cem­ber 4, 2017, the first re­spon­dent is­sued me with a let­ter pur­port­ing to ap­point and trans­fer me to the po­si­tion of a mag­is­trate serv­ing at Nh­langano Mag­is­trate’s Court, I chal­lenged the re­spon­dent’s uni­lat­eral ac­tions of trans­fer­ring me from my po­si­tion as reg­is­trar by writ­ing a griev­ance let­ter for same,” Bhembe sub­mit­ted.

He stated that fol­low­ing the dis­cus­sion and direc­tive from the CJ that he would be ap­pointed to the po­si­tion of mag­is­trate, he re­ceived a let­ter from him pur­port­ing that the ap­point­ment was af­ter due con­sul­ta­tions and fur­ther di­rected him to va­cate his of­fice and hand over the keys to the In­dus­trial Court pres­i­dent.

Bhembe, who is rep­re­sented by se­nior at­tor­ney Mandla Mkhwanazi, stated in his pa­pers that he ve­he­mently de­clined to take the po­si­tion of mag­is­trate which was be­ing im­posed on him with­out him hav­ing ap­plied for same and in­ter­viewed to that re­gard.

He sub­mit­ted that his present work sta­tion is Mba­bane where he lives with his fam­ily and chil­dren all of whom are at­tend­ing school in Mba­bane and that the trans­fer to Nh­langano will ne­ces­si­tate that he also re­lo­cates his chil­dren and de­pen­dents to Nh­langano and find al­ter­na­tive spa­ces at schools from that town, which is im­pos­si­ble as schools have al­ready closed ap­pli­ca­tions.

LAW AND OR­DER: Judge John Mur­phy.

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