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MBABANE – The International Commission for Jurists (ICJ) has called for the immediate release of The Nation Magazine Editor Bheki Makhubu and Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko.

In a statement issued by ICJ Deputy Director Martin Okumu, the international jurist organisation stated that it was concerned that the accused did not appear in open court, but instead in the Chief Justice’s chambers.
“The ICJ calls upon the Swazi government to immediately release the two men. For as long as they are in detention they must be given access to their lawyers. The ICJ is concerned that Thulani Maseko is being subjected to prosecution for the legitimate exercise of his profession as a lawyer, and that both men appear to be detained for exercising their right of freedom of expression,” reads part of the statement.

Also calling for the release of the accused is the SADC Lawyers Association and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.
The Law Society of Swaziland and the Embassy of the United States of America have also raised concern regarding the arrest of Makhubu and Maseko.

In a statement, the American Embassy stated that the United States strongly supports the promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms.
The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has also declared support for Makhubu and Maseko. The accused are currently kept at Sidwashini Correctional facility pending their next court appearance.
The contempt charges emanate from articles which the two wrote in the monthly magazine, where they questioned the rationale behind the arrest of Chief Government Vehicle Inspector Bhantshana Gwebu.

In the first count, it is alleged that during the month of February 2014 at or near Mbabane each and or all of them, acting in furtherance of a common purpose did unlawfully and intentionally violate and undermine the dignity, repute and authority of the High Court of Swaziland.
They are alleged to have issued and published malicious and contemptuous statements about the case of the State against Gwebu High Court Case No. 25/2014, a criminal matter currently pending before the High Court.

In the charge sheet, it is alleged that the two compared the judicial officer who issued the warrant against Gwebu to Caiphus who led Jesus to his killers, alleged that the judicial officer ‘massaged’ the law to suit his own agenda, alleged that the judicial officer collaborated with ‘willing servants’ to break the law and that they falsely alleged that Gwebu was denied legal representation.

In the second count, they are alleged to have, during the month of March 2014, unlawfully and intentionally undermined the repute and authority of the High Court of Swaziland in that they issued and published malicious and contemptuous statements about the case of the King against Gwebu.
This time they are alleged to have stated that the arrest of Gwebu was a demonstration of ‘corrupt’ abuse of authority and lacking in moral authority or was a ‘demonstration of moral bankruptcy’, that the proceedings against Gwebu are a ‘travesty of justice’ and that the proceedings against Gwebu were aimed at settling personal scores and that the idea behind these proceedings was to ensure that he was ‘dealt with’.

Comments (2 posted):

Siyabonga Hlophe on 21/03/2014 10:49:36
Let me add my voice too although i know the man called Makulubaas will ignore it: release TR Maseko and Bheki Makhubu with emmediate effect. Now we are afraid to say anything about the judiciary. I might be charged for scandalizing the courts myself. What is done by Makulubass is what we usually watch in movies really.This guy has turned the judiciary into a hollywood session.
concerned student on 21/03/2014 11:33:10
its time we appoint swazi CJ, the incubent CJ is turnishing the country's image after all he will not suffer the cosequences because he is just here to gain money. we need people who are Swazis at heart, not people who uses the courts to pursue their own agendas. the High Court has turned to be a rural court- ka ndabazabantu.

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