The Law Society of Botswana has expressed concern that Swaziland’s Chief Justice, Michael Ramodibedi, currently embroiled in a Swaziland political row, continues to sit as a panelist of the Botswana Court of Appeal despite his “warped sense of justice”.
Ramodibedi has been caught in Swaziland’s political storm after suspending a High Court judge, Thomas Masuku, on several charges including allegations that he (Masuku), through a judgement issued sometime last year, insulted King Moswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
The LSB has quashed the charges leveled against Masuku as trumped up and has further labeled them as nothing but an assault on the judiciary and rule of law in Swaziland.
In a statement issued this week, the law society calls for Ramodibedi to be removed from the Court of Appeal.
According to LSB, having Ramodibedi around is unfavourable for democracy and development of Botswana legal system. The lawyers state that Ramodibedi’s way of doing things is not good for regional development.
At the centre of the controversial suspension in Swaziland is that Masuku allegedly referred to Mswati as speaking with a ‘forked tongue’. An old age idiom which basically means to lie or to be dishonest.
It says that it is disappointed that Ramodibedi has decided to serve as an uninspiring member of the Botswana Court of Appeal bench with a narrow sense and approach to justice.
“We are particularly concerned about his warped sense of justice and democracy whose influence may find their way into our jurisprudence,” the LSB said.
It added: “In conclusion, the law Society of Botswana assures the law Society of Swaziland and the citizens of that country its support as they fight to protect and enhance the rule of law in Swaziland,” reads part of the statement from the society’s executive secretary, Tebogo Moipolai.
Contacted for comment, the Judge President of the Court of Appeal declined to comment on the issue.
In a short statement forwarded to the Sunday Standard on Friday, the Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Michael Mothabi, indicated that Kirby did not want to comment on Ramodibedi’s involvement in Swaziland’s political saga.
“The Judge President is of the view that this is not a matter within the jurisdiction of the court, and it would not be appropriate to comment,” reads the statement from Justice Kirby’s office.
Lawyers across the region have strongly criticized Ramodibedi’s decision to charge Masuku for allegedly insulting King Mswati III while executing his judicial duties.