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Swazi MPs pile pressure on Juistice Ramodibedi

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LOBAMBA — The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi should be suspended pending finalisation of investigations into his alleged fraud charges. This was said by Motshane Member of Parliament Robert Magongo who on a point of privilege asked the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze to within seven days table a report before the House of Assembly on the alleged charges.

Magongo who tabled a copy of Thursday’s Times of Swaziland edition in the House asked the minister if it was true that the Chief Justice was facing fraud in Lesotho. “Like with most such cases in the country it is only proper that the officer be suspended until the investigation is completed,” said Magongo. He said it was standard practice that an officer was asked to take time off work if such matters came up.

He said Swazis had to feel confident that matters would be handled well at the High Court. Magongo was supported by Lobamba MP Majahodvwa Khumalo who said if something like what was alleged to have happened to the Chief Justice had taken place that person had to stay at home pending finalisation of the matter. “In Swaziland we are always talking about corruption and fighting it from the top, he must therefore go on leave,” said Khumalo.

In response, the minister said nothing had been communicated to government by the Lesotho government. He said both countries had different jurisdictions and therefore, they could not interfere. He said the problem, if any, was in Lesotho.
However Ludzeludze MP Nonhlanhla Dlamini said the minister was giving a bad example as the country could not ignore things that happened in other countries under the pretext that it was not within their jurisdiction.

“Are you saying the same would apply with a case of murder?” asked Dlamini. The minister said Lesotho would have to communicate with the Swazi government. He said Magongo should stop abusing Parliament privilege as he knew that matters involving the Chief Justice were constitutionally provided for. Khumalo said the minister should make a follow-up like what was done with Lisa Zikalala who was arrested in Thailand.

The Minister of Public Works and Transport Ntuthuko Dlamini said MPs who currently had fraud cases pending should also be suspended before they involved themselves in matters affecting others. The House resolved that Gamedze should table a report on Justice Ramodibedi in seven days. Chief Justice Ramodibedi is involved in a court battle with the Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and other government officials.

He challenged Thabane’s alleged decision to dispossess him of official vehicles. This was after Thabane, Justice Ramodibedi alleged in court papers, had asked the Lesotho Court of Appeal President to step down. However, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Mophato Monyake denied Justice Ramodibedi was asked to step down. He alleged, in court papers, that Thabane had intended to discuss the problem in that country’s Judiciary, but the Chief Justice stormed out of the meeting.

Justice Ramodibedi is further alleged to be under investigation by Lesotho after reportedly instructing his ex-driver to file a false accident claim in a cover up. His son was allegedly involved in a car accident driving a government official vehicle.
An insurance company allegedly paid out a claim in respect of the accident.

The prime minister is said to have taken a decision to have the Chief Justice impeached for his conduct in Lesotho and in Swaziland.
— Times of Swaziland

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