100 days in jail for journalist and human rights lawyer in Swaziland

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
June 25 2014

105 days for bheki thulani
Swazi Observer, June 25 2014

When the respected editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu and prominent human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko appear in court next Tuesday they will have spent over 100 days in Sidwashini jail, just north of Swaziland’s capital Mbabane.

They are both facing criminal contempt of court charges after writing opinion pieces in which they question the chief justice’s actions over the arrest of a government vehicle inspector.

Makhubu and Maseko deny the charges, saying they were expressing opinions in the public interest while calling for the rule of law to be upheld.

The Crown contends that the opinion pieces were unfair to Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and brought the judicial system into disrepute.

Local and international support continues to grow for the two men, who Amnesty International has called “prisoners of conscience”.

Page 2 Swazi Observer, June 25 2014
Page 2 Swazi Observer, June 25 2014

According to today’s Swazi Observer, the director of public prosecutions – who is bringing the case on behalf of the Crown – says that the constitutional right to freedom of expression is inferior to court supremacy.

Yesterday in court the United States and the European Union were both represented by their respective ambassadors, who were there to show solidarity with the detained writers.

The case continues next Tuesday 1 July at Swaziland’s high court, when the court will hear submissions from the lawyers representing both sides.

Draconian laws will never suppress a people’s desire for free expression, the press is here to stay – Swazi Observer

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
June 25 2014

Swazi Observer, June 25 2014
Swazi Observer, June 25 2014

The editorial in yesterday’s Swazi Observer agrees with South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa that the media must annoy and challenge the leaders of a country, while also reporting in a fair and balanced manner. 

“Africa direly needs politicians who will acknowledge the role of the press instead of treating it as the nemesis out to spoil their dish during their powerful days,” says the Swazi Observer

“We may deny it all we want, but the press is here to stay and the sooner you make good friends with it, both by deed and utterance, the better your political honeymoon shall be.

“Draconian laws meant to suppress freedom of expression and information will never rise above the thirst of a people to be governed in a feasible manner which they can appreciate and in times such as these true politicians like Ramaphosa will always come to the foe,” concluded the comment by the Swazi Observer’s. 

‘Expose us when we abuse state resources,’ says SA deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as regional media faces renewed threats

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
June 23, 2014

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In today’s Swazi Observer, a daily newspaper in Swaziland, several reports from the region highlight the difficulties of being a journalist. 

A Somali journalist died in Mogadishu on Saturday after a bomb blast believed to be attached to his car was remotely detonated, according to witnesses and police as reported by South African Press Association (SAPA). 

The editor of a state-run newspaper in Zimbabwe faces life in prison if found guilty of charges of “attempting to commit an act of insurgency, banditry, sabotage, and terrorism” and “subverting the constitutional government”, also reported by SAPA. 

On a more positive note, South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the media to continue criticising the government while also calling for fair and balanced coverage. Ramaphosa said it was even necessary for the media to annoy public representatives. 

“Delight us, amuse us, educate us, challenge us! And occasionally, just occasionally, annoy us, for we do not pretend to be saints and know it all,” said Ramaphosa according to the Sunday Independent

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“Confront us about service delivery failures. Condemn us when children die of contaminated water. Expose us when we abuse state resources,” he continued. 

In Swaziland, respected editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko have spent almost 100 days in jail — while their various court cases play out — on criminal contempt of court charges after writing opinion pieces about the nation’s judiciary. Their trial, in the main contempt case, continues tomorrow morning at Swaziland’s high court. 

Media freedom around the world continues to come under threat, undoing years of progress. According to US-based advocacy body Freedom House, in 2014 only 1 in 7 people on the planet live in a country with a free press.

To read more about the dwindling state of global media freedom, click here

‘Unfair for people in power to control how other people should think,’ says jailed Swazi journalist from witness box

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
June 11 2014

Defence lawyers for detained journalist Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko yesterday finished presenting their case at Swaziland’s High Court.

Makhubu and Maseko have been in jail for over 80 days after being charged with criminal contempt of court and remanded into Sidwashini prison for writing opinion pieces criticising the actions of the nation’s judiciary.

Editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu has now spent over 80 days in jail
Editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu has now spent over 80 days in jail

Yesterday in court Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine, was cross-examined by director of public prosecutions Nkosinathi Maseko, who is representing the Crown in the matter.

If found guilty of contempt, “The editor said it would be a damning indictment to the state of the judiciary if a lowly newspaper man like himself” could bring the justice system into disrepute, reported today’s Swazi Observer.

Makhubu said it is “unfair for people in power to control how other people should think,” making reference to controversial chief justice Michael Ramodibedi.

“The veteran scribe said the CJ should know better as an educated man that the public was bound to question [Ramodibedi’s] decisions because he paid with [Swazi] taxpayer’s money,” added the Swazi Observer.

The Times of Swaziland, under the headline ’13 more days in jail for duo,’ said the matter was postponed to June 24 when the court will hear submissions.

As freedom of speech continues to come under threat in Swaziland, the European Union has spoken out against the ongoing detention of Makhubu and Maseko, as well as the arrests and detention of political activists. Today’s Times of Swaziland reported on the EU’s recent statement at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.

The EU is “very concerned by recent developments in Swaziland that infringe on the rights of expression, opinion, assembly and association”.

The statement continues: “We wish to recall the commitment made by Swaziland under the Cotonou Agreement – the framework for Swaziland’s cooperation with the European Union – to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights principles which include freedom of association.”

The Times of Swaziland’s editorial from today echoed the EU’s words.

“If we are going to create our own version of democracy, we need to to include a little democracy in it,” said the Times of Swaziland.

Swazi appeal court overturns 2013 contempt conviction against Bheki Makhubu

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
June 1, 2014

An appeal court in Swaziland on Friday 30 May set aside a criminal contempt of court ruling against Bheki Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine.

In the same ruling, the appeal court reduced the penalty relating to another contempt charge faced by Makhubu and the magazine.

Front page of Observer on Saturday, May 31, 2014
Front page of Observer on Saturday, May 31, 2014

Read more in the local press by clicking on this link: http://www.observer.org.sz/news/62377-bheki-makhubu-nation-magazine-win-round-one.html

Read the full Appeal Court ruling on Swaziland’s legal website, ‘SwaziLii’, by clicking here.

Makhubu and The Nation were last year convicted on two counts of contempt of court after publishing articles criticising the judiciary while calling for the rule of law to be upheld.

The initial penalty in the lower court (the High Court) ordered Makhubu and and The Nation to pay $US20,000 within three days or else Makhubu would be sent to jail for two years. 

Makhubu lodged an appeal within those three days which stayed proceedings until the appeal case was heard and ruling delivered on May 30, 2014, last Friday. 

In a separate saga, Makhubu and The Nation, along with prominent lawyer and Nation columnist Thulani Maseko, were earlier this year charged with contempt of court after writing opinion pieces in which they criticise the judiciary while calling for the courts to adhere to the Constitution. 

Makhubu and Maseko are both detained in jail as this current contempt of court trial plays out. They have both been in jail for over 70 days. 

Members of the public, journalists, civic groups and foreign diplomats have sporadically been barred from visiting the two men at Sidwashini prison, just north of the capital Mbabane. 

The ongoing contempt trial continues tomorrow morning, June 2, at Swaziland’s high court.

Swaziland: (possible) landmark free speech ruling to be handed down today

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
May 30 2014

If you think you’re having a tough day, spare a thought for Bheki Makhubu, a prominent Swazi journalist currently in jail for writing an opinion piece in which he criticises the judiciary while calling for the rule of law to be respected and the constitution to be upheld.

Journalist Bheki Makhubu (in blue sweater) and lawyer Thulani Maseko (in suit)  t appearances
Journalist Bheki Makhubu (in blue sweater) and lawyer Thulani Maseko (in suit) entering Swaziland’s High Court earlier in the year during their ongoing criminal contempt of court trial

Makhubu, editor of monthly magazine The Nation, and Thulani Maskeo, human rights lawyer and columnist for The Nation, have been behind bars at Swaziland’s Sidwashini prison — just north of the capital Mbabane — for over 70 days.

Makhubu was charged for an article he wrote in the February 2014 edition of the Nation, while Maseko’s charge relates to an opinion piece he wrote in the March 2014 edition.

In his article Maseko makes an impassioned plea for freedom while calling on the judiciary to uphold the rule of law.

As a result of writing these articles both men were charged with criminal contempt of court.

Landmark ruling on free speech…
However, today’s landmark ruling in the country’s Supreme Court, which acts as the Court of Appeal, does not relate to the current contempt charge faced by Makhubu and Maseko.
Observers are split on whether this ruling will make a difference to future free speech cases in Swaziland, though many believe it could influence the outcome of the current trial involving both Makhubu and Maseko.

The ruling today marks the end of a saga that has dragged on for several years.

The High Court of Swaziland on April 17 2013 sentenced Makhubu to a fine of US$20,000 or, if the fine was not paid within three days, two years imprisonment. The sentence was based on comments made in the Nation by Makhubu about controversial Chief Justice Michael M. Ramodibedi in 2009 and 2010.

The judgment was handed down more than a year after the case was heard, in February 2012.

Makhubu’s legal team lodged an appeal within the three day deadline, staying the judgment until an appeal hearing.

That appeal was heard at the Supreme/Appeal Court last Friday 23 May.

Daily newspaper the Swazi Observer reported on the hearing: “South African top Advocate Alexandra Freund has defended The Nation Magazine Editor Bheki Makhubu, claiming he was barely criticising the judiciary not scandalising it.”

The report continued: “The advocate said anyone who saw something wrong and rightly criticised it was not in contempt of court. He highlighted that in the case of Makhubu, there was nothing wrong as criticising could be made in strong statements or harsh words.”

Advocate Freund noted that it was surprising that the Attorney General prosecuted the case back in February 2012.

Freund submitted that “the case was not under the jurisdiction of the attorney general but was supposed to be prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecution”, said the Swazi Observer.

During the appeal hearing last Friday, said the media report: “Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini confirmed that criticism was not wrong but the language used to do so was to be selected.

“Dlamini, who was representing the state in the matter, highlighted that even if the reason to criticise was there, the language used must be respectful in order to be deemed criticism.

The judgement in this matter — a case that many consider could be a landmark ruling for free speech in the land-locked kingdom — is expected to be handed down this morning.

More court to come
After hearing this judgement this morning, Makhubu will be transported under heavy security to Swaziland’s High Court where he and his co-accused, Thulani Maseko, will take their familiar positions in the dock to continue following their current contempt of court trial.

In a confusing twist, it was expected that Makhubu and Maseko would have to face another hearing — related to this current contempt trial involving their articles from earlier this year — because Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is appealing their short release from prison on April 9.

Makhubu and Maseko were released by high court judge Mumcy Dlamini on April 9 after she found their initial arrest warrants, which were issued by the chief justice, were unlawful and irregular. It is unclear whether this appeal brought by the chief justice will be heard during this current session of the Supreme/Appeal Court.

In Reporters Without Borders 2014 press freedom index Swaziland was ranked 156th out of 180 countries.

Freedom House, a global rights body, ranked Swaziland 171st out of 197 countries in their 2014 freedom of the press report, adding that Swaziland is categorised in the ‘not free’ nations.

MISA-Swaziland hosting World Press Freedom Day event on Friday 9 May

Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa is hosting an event to mark World Press Freedom Day this coming Friday 9 May.

World Press Freedom Day, which was officially on May 3, is a day to reflect on the progress towards free speech and media freedom. It offers an opportunity to come together to discuss the benefits of a more open and tolerant media environment, founded on the principles of free speech.

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY COMMEMORATION

Programme

Date: 9 May 2014

Time: 5.30 pm

Venue: Theatre Club Mbabane

1. Opening Remarks by MISA chairperson
2. UNESCO message
3. Guest Speaker
4. Panel of discussion
5. Closing

For information on media freedom in Swaziland click here to read 2013’s So This is Democracy

For enquires please contact MISA-Swaziland advocacy officer Phakama Shili at phakamashili@gmail.com

Continued incarceration for respected journalist and lawyer

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
April 15 2014

Another week in jail for journalist Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko. High Court judge Mpendulo Simelane refuses to remove himself from the case. Defence lawyers argued that Simelane cannot be objective because he is a subject of criticism in the opinion articles that have landed Makhubu and Maseko in detention on criminal contempt charges. 

During a recusal hearing yesterday at Swaziland’s high court, lawyers for Makhubu and Maseko argued that the ordinary person on the street perceives Simelane to be biased against the accused persons. The lawyers said there is a reasonable perception (or apprehension) of fear that Simelane might not approach the case with an open mind. 

The DPP, or Crown lawyers saw no reason for Simelane to recuse himself. DPP lawyers argued at length saying judge Simelane is fit to preside over the case. 

Simelane, in his ruling, saw no reason to recuse himself from the case and set next Tueaday 22 April as the beginning of the contempt trial.

Family members of Makhubu and Maseko and about 100 supporters and observers were barred from the court yesterday. Tension was high at the court with police surrounding the building and adjoining areas. Many security officials with guns were seen at discreet locations in the court’s carpark.

The hearing was in a small court room. At one stage the wife and brother of Makhubu were refused entry, though they eventually made it into the court. Many attempts were made by lawyers to move the hearing to a bigger court room but judge Simelane said only the registrar can allocate a different court.

Background 
Simelane and Swazi chief justice Michael Ramodibedi were both criticised in opinion pieces written by Makhubu and Maseko earlier in the year. 

Ramodibedi issued a warrant of arrest after the articles were published and charged the respected editor and prominent human rights lawyer with criminal contempt of court. 

Makhubu and Maseko were subsequently freed from prison after judge Mumcy Dlamini found the initial arrest warrants were unlawful. 

Makhubu and Maseko were re-arrested a few days later after judge Simelane ordered new arrest warrants. They were taken back into custody and they remain at Sidwashini prison in the capital Mbabane. 

Many commentators and lawyers have suggested this is an attempt to bring back arbitrary detention.

In the trial that will begin next week Makhubu and Maseko have listed judges Simelane and Ramodibedi as witnesses. It now appears that Simelane will be a judge and a witness in the same case.

In a separate matter, the Swaziland Law Society last week lodged an application challenging the appointment of Simelane as a high court judge. The law society alleges he does not have the required experience, as set out in the Constitution, to qualify as a high court judge. The judicial services commission, on the other hand, has praised Simelane as a rising star.

Alluding to the application challenging Simelane’s appointment, lawyers for Makhubu and Maseko yesterday argued that Simelane has shown bias towards the Crown’s lawyers. The defense lawyers also pointed out that it is clear that DPP lawyers want Simelane to preside over the contempt trial, as the DPP has been vehemently opposing attempts to recuse (or remove) Simelane as judge. Simelane dismissed any perception of bias.

Ramodibedi is also at the centre of controversy and is soon to face an impeachment hearing in his home country Lesotho, where he is suspended from a senior judicial position. He is facing several allegations including misconduct. He has denied all charges.

For more information click below for Mail & Guardian article describing Bheki Makhubu as a pillar of society who edits a respected monthly news magazine

Swazi editor Makhubu kept in maximum security prison 

‘Stop treating us like children’ – lawyer dresses down judge in Swaziland’s high court

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
April 11 2014

A prominent human rights lawyer in Swaziland, who is currently detained behind bars for writing an opinion piece questioning the independence of the country’s judiciary, dressed down a high court judge yesterday, telling the judge to stop treating him like a child.

We have lawyers, why can’t you take the war to them? We are not children. You are a judge and you must behave like one. We are all getting tired of you. You have issued warrants so go ahead and arrest us, said lawyer Thulani Maskeo from the court dock. Maseko is facing criminal contempt of court charges along with his fellow accused Bheki Makhubu, editor of respected monthly magazine The Nation.

Journalist Bheki Makhubu (in blue sweater) and lawyer Thulani Maseko (in suit) were allowed to come to court yesterday without the leg chains that have been around their ankles on previous court appearances
Journalist Bheki Makhubu (in blue sweater) and lawyer Thulani Maseko (in suit) were allowed to come to court yesterday without the leg chains that have been around their ankles on previous court appearances

The public gallery erupted into applause and cheers of support as Maskeo finished his impromptu address.

Maseko was directing his anger and instructions towards newly-appointed high court judge Mpendulo Simelane.

“Maseko told the judge off … after Judge Simelane reprimanded them for not standing up when their matter was called,” reported daily newspaper Times of Swaziland.

“Each time Judge Simelane addressed Maseko, members of the public sitting in the gallery would boo [the judge]”, reported daily newspaper the Swazi Observer

Simelane said he wanted to address the accused men directly, which was why he was asking them to stand up.

Controversy has surrounded Simelane since his appointment as high court judge, and yesterday Lawyers for Human Rights in Swaziland — a support group for legal professionals — filed an application challenging the legality of Simelane’s appointment to the Bench.

Times of Swaziland front page, April 11 2014
Times of Swaziland front page, April 11 2014

Maseko and Makhubu were initially sent to prison on March 18 after a closed meeting in the chief justice’s chambers. In that meeting Maseko and Makhubu did not have an opportunity to defend themselves or apply for bail. Lawyers for the two detained men called the private meeting “peculiar”.

Local and international outcry followed, with Amnesty International calling the men “prisoners of conscience”. Many human rights groups have described the arrest and jailing as judicial retribution. African rights bodies, along with the US Embassy in Swaziland and the European Union, have condemned the actions of Swaziland’s judiciary.

Last Sunday, in a separate case brought by Maseko and Makhubu, high court judge Mumcy Dlamini found that the initial arrests of the men were unlawful and irregular, thereby releasing the men from jail. Hundreds of supporters sung and danced into the evening as the men were freed from Sidwashini jail, just north of the nation’s capital Mbabane.

Supporters of journalist Bheki Makhubu and lawyer Thulani Maseko celebrating their release from prison last Sunday. The men were taken back into custody this week
Supporters of journalist Bheki Makhubu and lawyer Thulani Maseko celebrating their release from prison last Sunday. The men were taken back into custody this week

The chief justice quickly appealed this ruling, saying judge Dlamini “erred” when making her judgement.

Earlier this week Maskeo and Makhubu were taken back into custody after judge Simelane issued two new arrest warrants. Simelane issued the warrants because the men were not in attendance at a bail-related hearing that had been set before the men were released from jail.

Lawyers for the accused argue that because the initial arrest warrants were found illegal, other matters — such as earlier bail-related matters — collapse.

Central to the ongoing saga are the question marks hanging over Swazi chief justice Michael Ramodibedi, who is currently suspended from a judicial position in his home country Lesotho, where he is facing allegations of fraud and misconduct. An impeachment trial against Ramodibedi is soon to begin in that country.

In Swaziland, questions have also been raised as to how judges Ramodibedi and Simelane can be impartial adjudicators when they are both subjects of the articles that have landed Maskeo and Makhubu in detention.

The front page of the opinion piece written by human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko. This article has landed Maseko in detention on contempt of court charges. The article makes mention of chief justice Michael Ramodibedi (the man who issues the warrant of arrest) as well as newly appointed judge Mpendulo Simelane (who presided over the open court hearing of Maseko and his fellow accused, journalist Bheki Makhubu. Makhubu is editor of the The Nation, the magazine where the article appeared.
The front page of the opinion piece written by human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko. This article has Maseko in detention on contempt of court charges. The article mentions chief justice Michael Ramodibedi (left), the judge who issued the initial warrant of arrest and is seemingly a potential complainant and a witness in his own court; as well as newly appointed judge and former court registrar Mpendulo Simelane (right), who is currently presiding over the pre-trial proceedings of Maseko and his fellow accused, journalist Bheki Makhubu. Makhubu is editor of the The Nation, the magazine where the article appeared.

Confusion also surrounded yesterday’s hearing.

When judge Simelane set April 14 as the trial date, advocate Lucas Maziya — part of the legal team for Maseko and Makhubu — stood up to enquire: “What matter is this?”

Murmurs of agreement could be heard from the public gallery, as many observers were also confused.

“The main matter — contempt of court,” replied judge Simelane.

After Makhubu and Maseko were released from jail last Sunday the chief justice filed an appeal, which is set to be heard next month. Lawyers and observers at the court yesterday, therefore, were left wondering how a trial date could be set by judge Simelane when a pre-trial appeal — seemingly in the same matter — is yet to be heard.

In his closing remarks yesterday, judge Simelane told the court that it “seems the accused persons [Maskeo and Makhubu] have no respect for the authority and dignity of this court”. This also brought a wave of hushed noise from the public gallery, seemingly in protest at the judge’s comments.

As it stands, the contempt of court case will begin at Swaziland’s high court this coming Monday 14 April.

A pre-trial conference is being held today. Calls for free speech and media freedom continue to grow.

Read more in the local media, click on links below

Irate arrested Thulani attacks new judge Swazi Observer 

Thulani tells Mpendulo to behave like a judge Times of Swaziland 

For more context on the unfolding situation in Swaziland read opinion article by leading human rights activist Musa Hlohpe, published in the most recent edition of the Mail & Guardian. Click on link below 

We cannot fool the world with patchwork human rights

 

‘Accused persons, stand up accused persons’ – Swazi judge orders more detention for journalist and human rights lawyer

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
March 28 2014

“Accused persons, stand up accused persons. You will further remain in custody until April 9th.”

These were the parting words of Swaziland high court judge Mpendulo Simelane as he ordered journalist Bheki Makhubu and prominent human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko back into detention for another seven days.

Journalist Bheki Makhubu standing in the dock talking with family and friends before this morning's hearing
Journalist Bheki Makhubu standing in the dock talking with family and friends before this morning’s hearing

Before the hearing this morning the lawyers for Makhubu and Maseko went to the judge’s chambers to indicate they would apply for judge Simelane to “recuse himself” from the hearing — a polite legal term meaning the judge should consider removing himself from the hearing because of a possible conflict of interest. The possible conflict might arise because Simelane is a potential complainant and witness in any trial that may proceed, owing to the fact that he is a subject of one of the opinion pieces that has landed Makhbubu and Maekso in detention.

In open court, after the defence indicated it would apply for recusal, the Crown — or director of public prosecutions (DPP) — said it will oppose the recusal application. Judge Simelane then set April 9th as the date for a ‘recusal hearing’.

It was thought that Makhubu, editor of monthly magazine The Nation, might apply for bail tomorrow. However after the legal developments this morning, any possible bail hearing for Makhubu will seemingly be postponed until the matter of Simelane’s potential conflict — the recusal matter — has been heard.

Front page of weekend newspaper 'Swazi News' with headlines about prominent lawyer Thulani Maskeo taking the chief justice to court
Front page of weekend newspaper ‘Swazi News’ with headlines about prominent lawyer Thulani Maskeo taking the chief justice to court

Adding another layer of legal intrigue, it has been reported that Maseko will bring a case against chief justice Michael Ramodibedi this coming Thursday. Local media reported over the weekend that Maseko will argue that the chief justice did not have the legal power to issue the warrant of arrest, alleging further that the chief justice’s actions were unconstitutional and irregular.

Makhubu and Maseko have been behind bars since March 18, when the chief justice sent them to prison after a closed hearing in which the accused didn’t have an opportunity to defend themselves or apply for bail. Makhubu and Maseko have been charged with contempt of court for writing articles questioning the judiciary.

Ramodibedi, an unpopular figure in Swaziland’s civil society, is facing possible impeachment in his home country of Lesotho, where he is currently the suspended president of the court of appeals.

The local media in Swaziland has also raised questions regarding the competence of judge Simelane, the 39-year-old former registrar of the high court who is currently hearing the Makhubu and Maseko proceedings.

Both Ramodibedi and Simelane feature in the articles that got Makhubu and Maseko into trouble on criminal contempt charges.

The front page of the opinion piece written by human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko. This article has landed Maseko in detention on contempt of court charges. The article makes mention of chief justice Michael Ramodibedi (the man who issues the warrant of arrest) as well as newly appointed judge Mpendulo Simelane (who presided over the open court hearing of Maseko and his fellow accused, journalist Bheki Makhubu. Makhubu is editor of the The Nation, the magazine where the article appeared.
The front page of the opinion piece written by human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko. This article has Maseko in detention on contempt of court charges. The article mentions chief justice Michael Ramodibedi (left), the judge who issued the warrant of arrest and is seemingly a potential complainant and a witness in his own court; as well as newly appointed judge and former court registrar Mpendulo Simelane (right), who is currently presiding over the pre-trial proceedings of Maseko and his fellow accused, journalist Bheki Makhubu. Makhubu is editor of the The Nation, the magazine where the article appeared.

Many local and international legal observers are questioning how judicial independence can be maintained when a judge, who is presiding over pre-trial proceedings, is also a potential complainant and witness in any criminal case that might proceed.

Outside the court after the hearing many political activists were seen singing and dancing; police softly prodded them towards the exit of the high court’s car park, where the activists continued to sing protest songs.

Political activists protesting outside the high court of Swaziland after journalist Bheki Makhubu and lawyer Thulani Maskeo were ordered back into detention
Political activists protesting outside the high court of Swaziland after journalist Bheki Makhubu and lawyer Thulani Maskeo were ordered back into detention

Read more:

Bheki Makhubu back in detention after Crown opposes bail – more jail time for respected Swazi editor

Journalist and human rights lawyer held in jail after closed court hearing

7 more days behind bars for you two – judge orders more jail time for Swazi journalist and human rights lawyer 

Is the Swazi broadcast media following the story of the jailed journalist and lawyer?