SWAZILAND: JUSTICE THOMAS MASUKU FIRED

Salc : Staff Writer

MBABANE – High Court Judge Thomas Masuku has been dismissed from the bench.

This publication has reliably gathered that the authorities have issued a decision that Judge Masuku’s position as a High Court Judge be revoked with immediate effect.

Masuku was slapped with seven charges of impeachment three months ago by the Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, who is currently at his home country of Lesotho.

A reliable source within government told this publication that the decision to sack Masuku was endorsed by the appointing authority yesterday morning and is awaiting to be gazetted.

Masuku was hauled before a disciplinary tribunal by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on August 11, 2011. No one else was allowed to attend the hearing besides Masuku’s legal representatives, and Ramodibedi who chaired it dismissed an application to have it publicly heard.

Masuku was accused of, among other things, insulting the King in a judgment he delivered on January 11, 2011 and also of touting himself as the chief justice.

He had been suspended on June 28, 2011 pending his appearance to answer on the charges preffered against him. He was also accused of defying Chief Justice Ramodibedi’s directive to prepare and submit a monthly schedule of pending judgments and for absenting himself from work.

“The decision to dismiss Masuku was taken today (yesterday),” an informed source said.

The JSC Secretary, Lorraine Hlophe said she had not been informed of any decision on Judge Masuku’s case. She said she is currently on leave and does not know of anything about the case.

Judge Masuku has served as a High Court Judge since 1999 and he won an order against a transfer to the Industrial Court in 2003.

The acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze yesterday refused to comment on the matter.

He said he could only comment once a Gazette legalising the appointing authority’s decision has been issued.

The decision was taken yesterday, which was the last day of the three month period stipulated by the Constitution for a judge to remain on suspension. Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi refused to address the media on the issue.

He at first said he was in a meeting and then said he does not talk to the media. He also told this reporter not to phone him again.

Efforts to get a comment from Judge Masuku yielded no positive results as his mobile phone was not available on the Mobile Telephone Network (MTN). When Times journalists visited his residence, a relative and security guards said he was away and would return next week. His attorney Sabela Dlamini from Magagula and Hlophe attorneys said he had not received anything from the JSC on the matter.

“Nothing has been communicated to us yet. We are still waiting. Maybe they are still to call us,” Dlamini said.

…I will hear from the CJ – registrar

MBABANE – The High Court Registrar Mpendulo Simelane is mum on what will happen to the cases which had been pending before Judge Thomas Masuku before his suspension.

Masuku was suspended on June 28, 2011 pending his appearance before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to answer on impeachment. He was yesterday dismissed following his appearance before the JSC on August 12, 2011 which had forwarded a recommendation to His Majesty King Mswati III who issued the decision.

Simelane said he was still not aware of the verdict on Judge Masuku’s impeachment. He said he would wait for a Gazette and then act on an instruction by the chief justice.

“I will hear from the chief justice on what to do, after the verdict has been issued,” Simelane said.

http://www.times.co.sz/News/32903.html