Swazi editor expected to apply for bail

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
March 27 2014

Swazi editor Bheki Makhubu is expected to apply for bail tomorrow morning, Friday 28 March, at the high court in the country’s capital Mbabane, according to the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (Sccco).

Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko have been detained at Sidwashini jail, just north of the capital, since March 18.

They have been charged with contempt of court after writing articles about Swaziland’s justice system.

They were sent to jail by chief justice Michael Ramodibedi after a closed court hearing in the chief justice’s chambers.

Local and international groups have called for the release of the two men, saying Ramodibedi breached the Constituion and international law by remanding the journalist and lawyer in custody after a secret meeting in which the men had no opportunity to defend themselves or apply for bail.

The chief justice and newly appointed judge Mpendulo Simelane are both subjects in the articles that have landed Makhubu and Maseko in jail. The two judicial officers are now presiding over the contempt charge.

Law groups from across the globe have voiced their displeasure at the peculiar legal proceedings.

Maseko is next expected in court on April 1.

Swazi chief justice Ramodibedi, an unpopular figure in Swaziland’s civil society, is currently facing impeachment proceedings in his home country Lesotho where he is that nation’s Court of Appeal president.

Amnesty International has called Makhubu and Maseko “prisoners of conscience”.

Makhubu had initially applied for bail but withdrew his application during an open court hearing last Tuesday. It is thought he is re-applying for bail because his wife is suffering from ill-health.



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