THE Law Society of Swaziland (LSS) has expressed concern about the manner in which Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and High Judge Mpendulo Simelane are handling the contempt of court trial against Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko.
In a statement issued yesterday, the LSS said it was appalled by the assassination of the Rule of Law in Swaziland following the re-incarceration and arrest of Makhubu and Maseko. The society said the continued detention of the duo was an affront of their constitutional rights to a fair hearing and liberty, which was in total contrast with the chief justice’s plea for a right to fair hearing as afforded to him in the Lesotho Court of Appeal.
“It is the society’s view that the perception now being created is a relentless persecution of the aforesaid persons for alleged contempt of court which cannot be condoned,” said the lawyers’ body.
“One of the objects of contempt proceedings is for the court to redeem its honour and dignity but in doing so it should do so in fair and procedural manner.
“It is our belief that without going into the merits of their matter, the point had already been made; they have unwittingly and effectively served their sentence or punishment, it, therefore, serves no further purpose in pursuing this matter any further, especially in view of the recent decision of Judge M. Dlamini.
“For the chief justice and Justice Mpendulo Simelane to proceed further in this matter in the questionable manner it is now being conducted will only serve to embarrass the court and reduce it in the estimation of the public.”
LSS said the courts were duty-bound in terms of Section 151 of the Constitution to protect the rights and freedom of all persons and to act impartially in all matters, even in instances where it believed that it had been offended. The society stated that the courts should always act judiciously, imbued with fairness.
“The courts are, therefore, enjoined to enforce the fundamental human rights and freedoms as embodied in the Constitution which, amongst others, includes the right to a fair hearing, equality before the law and the equal protection of the law. The present status of the proceedings as they stand, are in our belief both shameful and extreme for the aforesaid reasons.
‘For what shall it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul,’ Mark 8: 36.