MISA-Swaziland | Media Alert
August 20 2014
“The office of the chief justice takes this opportunity to warn the media from commenting adversely on cases pending in court,” said a statement issued by the CJ’s office, according to the Times of Swaziland.
The statement continues: “Thus, for example, one publication scandalously referred to the chief justice’s role as ‘unorthodox move’ and that he ‘flights with political issues’.”
The Times articles goes on to report: “He [the CJ] said it was plain mischievous to allege, as the Observer on Saturday did on August 16, 2014 that the prime minister’s authority was being challenged [by the CJ].”
The Swazi chief justice — who recently resigned from a top judicial position in his home country Lesotho before an impending impeachment hearing against him — has been at the centre of recent media wranglings in Swaziland.
Respected editor Bheki Makhhbu and lawyer Thulani Maseko were both sentenced to two years in jail after writing articles that were found to have disrespected the CJ.
Makhubu and Maseko were convicted of criminal contempt of court for writing “scurrilous” opinion articles that the high court said had brought the justice system into disrepute.
Local and international groups continue to condemn the conviction and sentence against the two writers, saying that the judgment does more harm to the country’s image.
Makhubu and Maseko have both filed an appeal which is expected to be heard in the coming months.