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MBABANE – After spending nine days in custody Bhantshana Gwebu, the Chief Government Vehicle Inspector, has finally been released.
Gwebu was yesterday admitted to E15 000 bail by High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala.

Judge Maphalala, however, ordered him to pay E2 500 cash and provide surety for the remaining amount. The warrant of arrest was also discharged by the judge.
The bail was paid by the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU). This was confirmed by the union’s president Quinton Dlamini. Gwebu was charged with contempt of court after he arrested and charged a driver of High Court Judge Esther Ota.

The State, which was represented by Advocate Norman Kades, was opposing Gwebu’s bail application on the basis that he was a flight risk.  The State also alleged that a union had politicised the matter, hence they could assist Gwebu to evade trial.
Advocate Kades contended that in terms of Section 96(4) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act the onus rests on Gwebu to establish that if released on bail there was no likelihood that he may attempt to evade trial.

“In order to establish that he is not a flight risk the court is obliged to take into consideration the factors mentioned in Section 96(6) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act none of which are dealt with by the applicant (Gwebu) in his founding affidavit apart from the mention of his children and that they are at school. No further details are given more particularly as to whether the children live with him and whether he has a permanent home,” the advocate stated.

He further submitted that Gwebu had not supplied details of assets held by him, where they are situated, and the extent to which he could afford to forfeit the amount of bail which may be set.

Judge Maphalala, however, wanted to know from the Crown how Gwebu was a flight risk and how NAPSAWU had politicised the matter. The judge wanted Advocate Kades to clarify how the union could assist Gwebu to evade trial.
In response the advocate informed the court that the Crown was abandoning the allegations that Gwebu was a flight risk because the union had politicised the matter.

He also told Judge Maphalala that the papers for the Crown were drafted hastily as they did not have sufficient time. Judge Maphalala, however, informed him that this was not true as they had six days to prepare their papers.

Advocate Kades stated that the applicant (Gwebu) had also not supplied his permanent home address but he merely stated that he resided at Bulunga.
“It is significant that Gwebu while alleging that he has bona fide defence to the charge but does not disclose that both Judge Ota’s driver, Judge Ota and the Chief Justice advised him that Judge Ota was on duty and fully authorised to use the vehicle and that he nevertheless persisted in his unlawful detention of the vehicle and the occupants,” Advocate Kades submitted.

The advocate also submitted that if released on bail Gwebu might disturb the public order or undermine public peace and security as provided for in  Section 96 (4) (e) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
“In the circumstances it is submitted that the applicant (Gwebu) has failed to make out a case for his release on bail and the respondent (Crown) prays that the application be dismissed,” he stated.


‘I am bound by my oath’

MBABANE – “When I was employed I took an oath and I will stick by it until I retire.”
These were the words of Bhantshana Gwebu, the Chief Government Vehicle Inspector upon his release from Sidwashini Correctional facility yesterday.
Gwebu, who was in the company of his lawyer Machawe Sithole and Senior Government Vehicle Inspector Samuel Magagula, said his arrest would not deter him from executing his duties without fear of favour. He said he would be reporting for duty today as he was on ‘forced’ absenteeism.
“I will report for duty today. The officers at the Correctional facility treated me very well.
“For now I will not say anything more about this matter but I am happy that I am finally out and I will go back to work to do my job,” he said.
Upon leaving the Sidwashini Correctional facility, Gwebu drove to his house situated at Checkers in Mbabane where he had a short prayer. His family also conducted a prayer service in one of the court rooms at the High Court.


Gwebu retiring from civil service

MBABANE – Chief Government Vehicle Inspector Bhantshana Gwebu will be retiring from the civil service next year.
The mandatory retirement age for civil servants is 60 years. This was disclosed by his lawyer Machawe Sithole when disputing the allegations by the Crown that Gwebu was a flight risk. Sithole said there must be sufficient averments that Gwebu was a flight risk.

He submitted that keeping his client in custody in anticipatory of punishment was wrong and the law frowns upon that.
“My client has been a civil servant for almost all his life and was once a police officer.  Next year he will be retiring and cannot evade trial as he was entitled to receive a sum of over half a million. He cannot evade trial and leave his money,” Sithole said.

He said the assertion by the Crown that his union may assist Gwebu evade trial was just a bald and sweeping allegation which was not supported by any evidence and it was sheer speculation. Sithole said the court could not refuse bail based on such assertion.

“The Crown further contends that the applicant (Gwebu) is facing a serious charge which carries a heavy sentence and this on its own is an inducement. In any event, the severity of the sentence cannot on its own be enough to result in the refusal of bail because it is regarded as enough, no person charged with a capital offence would hope for bail yet bail has been in many cases granted to persons charged with capital offences. This court is enjoined to look at the peculiar circumstances of each case,” he stated.

Sithole further told the court that Gwebu was ageing now and his condition could easily deteriorate to his extreme prejudice.
He submitted that the fact that Gwebu’s children were out of school could also exacerbate his health.
Sithole informed the court that Gwebu had stated that he feared that he could lose his job with the Swaziland Government due to his continued detention more so because the trial date had still not been set.  He said this was a factor favouring the granting of bail.

“It is submitted that in the present matter, the applicant (Gwebu) has discharged the onus lying upon it and he should be admitted to bail as the interest of justice will clearly not be prejudiced by his release and it be emphasised that prosecuting counsel is not an avenging angel  but an instrument of justice,” he stated.

Comments (6 posted):

Nkululeko on 30/01/2014 05:56:52
Rhinoh on 30/01/2014 07:58:36
The government is playing funny games in expenses of the tax payers! Gwebu must sue the government to hell
Sydney Maseko on 30/01/2014 08:41:14
Good points Mr. Sithole. Keep it up
sipho dludlu on 30/01/2014 09:06:13
i think what is being done to the poor mah is not fair. The officer was executing his duty of monitoring Government vehicles against abuse. Moreover he did not arrest the judge but he arrested the driver. So the judge had an alternative of boarding a public transport. Why are we treated like foreigners in our own country and foreigner are the true citizens of Swaziland. One day we Swazis, we will enjoy liberation like SA. This is the same judge who sentenced leo for seven years, now its Bhantjana.
mgandza on 30/01/2014 11:25:40
I am total against the miseuse of our Union money at our expence of the mass the man is not a member first and not active to union activities
melusi on 30/01/2014 12:35:50
Abebpshelwe kwenta umsebenti wakhe? Uphindze uboshwa state lesimcashile? Are there people who are above the law except the Ingwenyama and the Indlovykati yini kani?

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