Swazi National, Magistrate’s Courts have limited power over debt disputes
The S wazi Nati onal a nd t he Magistrate’s Courts have no jurisdiction over money disputes. More often than not, when people are being owed money they run to these courts to seek an intervention and for some justice to be served, especially when the debtor cooperates with the law officers. If not, the cases tends to drag for a lifetime.
This publication has established that the Government of Swaziland is in a process of introducing small claims courts to plug this gap, revealed the Attorney General Sifiso Khumalo during an interview this past week.
However, he pointed out that the minister of justice or the chief justice was the right persons to dwell on such a topic.
“The Swazi courts have cases that they work on as governed by the law, cases of people owing each other money are civil cases so even if you can take the debtor to the Magistrates Court, the court will not have power because it has limited powers in such cases,” Khumalo revealed.
“I understand that we are in the process of establishing small claims courts but you can confirm that with the chief justice. In small claims courts, it is where instant justice will be available for such cases,” Khumalo added.
When asked on when the public can expect such courts to start operating, Khumalo said it was within the judicial jurisdiction.
The attorney general further explained that the small claims courts will not be established for only cases of people who owe each other money.
According to information gathered from officials working at the Swazi National and Magistrate’s Courts, these two systems of justice lack an instrument to arrest debtors who are not willing to pay back monies they owe.
A warrant of arrest can only be issued against the debtor when he or she failed to pitch in court; this charge is called contempt of court.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Edgar Hillary in a brief interviewed also confirmed the news of estab- lishing a small claim courts in the country.
“There’s a Bill that we are still working on, small claims courts are an international phenomenal,” he said.
Minister Hillary went on to mention that small claims courts were for minor cases, further giving an example of when one owes another one a sum of E400. He said such cases should be dealt by the small claims courts.
He added that it was not yet clear on when such courts can start operating. He emphasised that for now his ministry was working on the Bill as there was a need for a piece legislation to be passed on to legalise the court.
He further mentioned that there was a need for the court to be harmonised with other courts.
Attorney General Sifiso Khumalo.