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Prosecution calls for end to Ramodibedi ‘circus’



ramodibediLekhetho Ntsukunyane

Embattled Justice Michael Ramodibedi was dealt another blow on Friday when the Swaziland High Court dismissed his application to block the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) report into his conduct from reaching King Mswati III.

The report was compiled after an investigation by the Commission’s ad-hoc committee to determine whether or not there was a prima facie case against the suspended Chief Justice.

The JSC concluded the report on Wednesday, but its contents remain “one of the most closely guarded secrets in the country,” according to Swazi media reports.

However, the Lesotho Times is reliably informed the report recommends Justice Ramodibedi’s impeachment but for this to happen, the King needs to endorse it hence the bid to stop the document from reaching the monarch.

Justice Ramodibedi, a Mosotho who resigned as Lesotho Court of Appeal president in April 2014 after losing a court case to stop an investigation into his conduct for possible transgression, has been the subject of sensational news in the region since locking himself in his mansion for 37 days—from 17 April 2015— to avoid arrest for alleged abuse of power.

The judge only agreed to leave his home after the Swazi government had suspended the arrest warrant and asked him to appear before a JSC adhoc committee.

But in yet another dramatic twist to the case, the judge was hospitalised on Wednesday after complaining of “dizziness” and the JSC hearing had to be completed without him but with his lawyer, Attorney Sipho Mnisi, in attendance.

Still the judge filed an “urgent” application seeking the court to interdict the JSC’s decision from reaching the King the following day.

However, on Friday, Acting judge, Justice Sidumo Mdladla dismissed the application after JSC counsel, Advocate Zweli Jele, filed an opposing affidavit “to put an end to the ongoing circus”.

Justice Mdladla said: “The court considered whether the applicant (Ramodibedi) was entitled to an interdict and could the application be considered urgent enough to merit dispensing with court rules, which prescribed the systematic process of launching legal action.

“In light of the circumstances of the case, the court found that the application did not clearly show that the applicant had a prima facie right to be granted an interdict. The applicant is enjoined to show this court that he has a prima facie right; that he has no alternative relief and the sum of balance of convenience is in his favour. In the present case, the applicant has to show that he has prospects of success in the appeal. Regrettably, there was none in the present case. In my view, that was unfortunate.”

On the subject of whether or not the matter was urgent, Justice Mdladla said the founding affidavit “should explicitly state the nature of circumstances which determine whether or not the matter is urgent. The disclosure should leave nothing to implication, but must be abundantly made clear. In this particular case, the applicant failed to show that there were factors that made the application urgent, but instead speculated on the likelihood of such factors.”

Until his suspension last month, Justice Ramodibedi had been Swaziland’s Chief Justice since 2010.


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