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King's man, not police seized 32 stolen cattle'

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MBABANE – Com-missioner of Police, Isaac Magagula has denied that police seized a herd of 32 cattle from a man suspected of having stolen them from the King.

This is contained in an appeal against a High Court order directing Magagula to restore the cattle to Mkhondvo Maseko.

Magagula, through Senior Crown Counsel Sifiso Khumalo, has said the cattle were seized by Macaleni Dlamini who is in charge of His Majesty King Mswati III’s cattle.

Restore

High Court Judge Justice Thomas Masuku issued an order directing the police to restore the cattle into Maseko’s possession. Maseko had told the court that the cattle belonged to him, all registered and branded under his name. He is represented by Osborne Nzima from Nzima and Associates. The matter was before the Chief Justice, Michael Ramodibedi, who sat with Justices Ahmed Ebrahim and Dr Seth Twum.

Khumalo argued that the High Court erred in law and in fact in finding that the cattle were taken by the police.

He submitted that the police went into Maseko’s homestead to maintain peace and order, being led by Dlamini, who seized the cattle. Maseko was being untruthful when he said Dlamini, whom he does not know, was not present when the cattle were seized.

He said the police were led by Dlamini and a local headman, Zangciki Gumedze, who was well-known to Maseko. "It is our submission that police did not despoil the respondent (Maseko) of his 32 herd of cattle, but Macaleni Dlamini did.

"It is submitted that the presence of the police at his homestead was only to maintain peace and order, just as they would accompany a sheriff or deputy sheriff of the court to execute a warrant," Khumalo said.

Khumalo also said the High Court should have noted that there was a dispute of fact on whether Dlamini was there or not and directed that oral evidence be led before issuing the order.

He also said Mkhondvo admitted through an article that appeared in this publication that Dlamini was the one who seized the cattle and was accompanied by the police.

Adduced

He further said Dlamini adduced to an affidavit under oath that he was the one who took the cattle and they are currently kept at Khubuta Farm, which is owned by Tibiyo Takangwane. He said Maseko knows who Dlamini is, but decided to run roughshod over his rights and instead brought an innocent party, the police, to court. He also said the High Court erred when it found that Dlamini did not have an interest in the matter, when he is the one in possession of the cattle in dispute.

He said the failure by Maseko to cite Dlamini in the case has created a barrier to succeeding in the relief he seeks. "It is our submission that the role of the police on the day in question was only confined to their peripheral role of maintaining peace and order."

... High Court has no jurisdiction - Isaac

MBABANE – The Commissioner of Police, Isaac Magagula, has also said the High Court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter as it involved the office of the King.

Lawyer Sifiso Khumalo, from the Attorney General’s office, said, in terms of the country’s Constitution, matters that involve the King are decided by the traditional structures.

However, Mkhondvo Maseko’s attorney, Osborne Nzima, denied this and said the High Court was competent to deal with the matter. He argued that the country is governed by law and insisted it was the police who opened Maseko’s kraal and took away the cattle. He said if a person had been accused of theft, he should be arrested.

He also said there were many similar cases where people had been arrested for theft of the King’s cattle and their cases were dealt with by the High Court.

Habitual

Asked by the Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, to comment on the argument by the police that they were dealing with a habitual thief in Maseko, Nzima said the police should have then arrested him first. He said the police did not bring any proof that the cattle belonged to the King. He said Maseko’s cattle were branded and had been registered under his name at the local dipping tank.

"There is no proof that Maseko stole the King’s cattle. It is only an allegation. This case was properly before the court. The police did not even identify the alleged cattle in the letter they were armed with," Nzima said.

He also said Maseko was in peaceful and undisturbed possession of the cattle, but was dispossessed of them unlawfully.

Judgment has been reserved until May 31, 2011.

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