October 23, 2015
Former Swazi political prisoners Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko have demanded multi-million rand settlements from King Mswati’s government for wrongful imprisonment.
Makhubu, a newsmagazine editor, and Maseko, an attorney, were tried together and jailed for 15 months from March 2014 until the Swaziland Supreme Court freed them in June 2015, two weeks before their scheduled release.
The court ruled they should not have been convicted in the first place, but stopped short of declaring their incarceration a fulfillment of a personal vendetta by former Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.
“(Makhubu’s) case was widely reported by the Swazi and international media and he was depicted as a convicted criminal. In addition, he was forced to spend 15 months away from his work and family,” stated Makhubu’s letter of demand prepared by his lawyers.
Makhubu wants R3,65 million from government, claiming R2,35 million for malicious arrest, prosecution and detention, R500,000 for defamation of character, legal costs and R800,000 for emotional trauma, shock and discomfort.
September 23, 2015
On 21 September, L4L, together with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and Judges for Judges (J4J), submitted a joint report for the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland.
In addition, the organisations are concerned about the apparent lack of independence of the judiciary resulting in a violation of the right of access to justice and to an effective remedy, as well as undue interference with the independence of lawyers. The prosecution of lawyer Thulani Maseko is a clear example of that.
In March 2014, human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, and magazine editor, Bheki Makhubu, were arrested and charged with contempt of court. Maseko and Makhubu had both written articles in Makhubu’s magazine, The Nation, in which they criticised the Swazi judiciary and the Chief Justice. Despite various applications for their release and the recusal of the presiding judge, in July 2014 Judge Mpendulo Simelane found the pair guilty of contempt and sentenced them to a two-year jail term without the option of a fine.
In November 2014, the Supreme Court heard an appeal brought by the Chief Justice against the April 2014 judgment of High Court Judge Mumcy Dlamini. Judge Dlamini had found that Maseko and Makhubu’s arrest and detention was unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered that they be released. However, despite this judgment, Maseko and Makhubu were later rearrested and stood trial.
June 10, 2015
The International Commission of Jurists today welcomed the opinion by The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) condemning as arbitrary the detention of prominent human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and calling on the Government of Swaziland to ensure his immediate release.
In response to a petition from the ICJ, the law firm Hogan Lovells US LLPS and the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, the UNWGAD affirmed that the Swaziland government’s detention of Maseko is unlawful and that his rights to freedom of expression, liberty, and to a fair trial had been violated.
April 23, 2015:
The International Commission of Jurists is concerned at the recent arrest of Swaziland High Court Judges Jacobus Annandale and Mpendulo Simelane, the High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi and the Minister of Justice Sibusiso Shongwe.
The four detainees appeared today before High Court Justice Qinisile Mabuza (photo).
Justice Minister Sibusiso Shongwe was denied bail and remains detained, while the other two High Court Judges and the registrar were released on bail.
The judges, registrar and Minister of Justice are all facing various charges related to corruption and obstructing the course of justice.
Tanele Maseko, the wife of the human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, jailed in Swaziland for writing articles critical of the Swazi judiciary, has said she is amazed at the support he has received from the international community.
Maseko was jailed for two years alongside Bheki Makhubu, the editor of the Nation, a small-circulation monthly magazine in Swaziland. Both men were found guilty of contempt of court.
A jailed Swazi human rights lawyer has been placed in solitary confinement, the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) said on Thursday.
“The LSSA is shocked and disturbed at reports that jailed Swazi human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko has been placed in solitary confinement at Big Bend Prison for a period of three weeks,” said co-chairmen Richard Scott and Busani Mabunda in a statement.
“The LSSA urges the South African government to intervene with the Swazi authorities and to join the legal profession in condemning this latest development.”