Swaziland
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MBONGWA: WE SOMETIMES MEET FOR DRINKS WITH JUDGE ABANDE

MBABANE - SNAT President Mbongwa Dlamini claims that with Judge Abande Dlamini, they would sometimes meet and go for drinks in various bars in Manzini, including Kai Kai.  

He wants the judge to recuse himself from presiding over his matter as he was allegedly personally known to him.The matter in which Mbongwa wants the judge to recuse himself is where he is seeking an order to interdict government from proceeding with his disciplinary hearing. Mbongwa’s Lawyer, Lucky Howe, yesterday filed a full-blown application, where he is seeking an order that Judge Dlamini should recuse himself. The application comes after the judge refused to recuse himself when approached in his chambers by Mbongwa’s attorney.

 Considerable

In his application, Mbongwa submitted that the judge was known to him personally and had been known to him for a considerable amount of time, to the extent that they were very close and had always been.According to the president of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the first time they allegedly met with Judge Dlamini, the latter was working, with Attorney Dominic Mngomezulu in Manzini.“We would frequently, as we do even now, meet and go for drinks in various bars in Manzini including the infamous Kai Kai,” submitted the applicant (Mbongwa). He alleged that recently they were together at a pub in Ngculwini known as Pixies, where they shared drinks. “It is a notorious fact that the honourable justice has been charged criminally, for having unlawfully fired his firearm in a public place on several occasions in Manzini and elsewhere,” alleged the applicant.

The SNAT president further submitted that their alleged friendship extended even further, to the extent that when the judge purchased his motor vehicle, a black Mercedes-Benz in South Africa, he called to advise him that he had bought a new vehicle and he showed it to him.“The proximity between us is too close, to the extent that I believe that it will violate the requirements of the provisions of Section 21 of the Constitution, which requires that the court should be independent, impartial and fair in the execution of its duties in all matters before it,” averred Mbongwa.It was his contention that Judge Dlamini would, therefore, never be impartial towards a matter involving him, hence the need for his recusal.He went on to claim that the judge could not execute his duties as dictated by the Constitution.

In his affidavit, Mbongwa further alleged that the judge made some utterances when he met him after delivering a judgment in the matter between the minister of Labour and Social Security against The National Public Service and Allied Workers Union and SNAT. He contended that, what was concerning was the conduct of the judge, after the judgment.  Mbongwa alleged that the judge met him in Manzini, Galp Filling Station near Manzini Central High School, randomly while he (Mbongwa) was in the general area. These are allegations contained in an affidavit whose veracity is still to be tested in court and the respondents are yet to file their papers.“He approached me as he always does, being a friend and a close one at that, and the words he uttered disturbed me and gave me a reason to believe that he is incapable of  being impartial when handling my matter,” alleged the applicant.He alleged that Judge Dlamini said; “The problem with you Mbongwa and the unions is that when you want to demonstrate or strike, you involve political parties and that is why you’ve lost the case.”

This, according to Mbongwa, was the same day the judge allegedly showed him his new car, which he had just collected from the Republic of South Africa. Mbongwa submitted that he had been advised that when his lawyer approached Judge Dlamini in the presence of Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Mbuso Simelane, he (judge) denied having any relationship with him to the extent that he informed his (Mbongwa) lawyer that he only knew his name and not the person he submitted in court. It was also his contention that their relationship was very close, which the judge could not deny.

Hospitalised

“The one incident where the honourable justice had his firearm taken away from him after he attempted to shoot Eno, after he had shot certain persons, who then were hospitalised, is known to me personally and the judge,” alleged Mbongwa.He submitted that the people who were allegedly shot by the judge in this particular instance, were known to him personally, and the judge very closely. “For the justice to not be honourable and to not admit to close relationship between myself and him clearly indicates that he can never be impartial towards me and further can never apply his mind in this particular matter,” he argued. The applicant said he had been advised by his attorney that in terms of the Bangalore Principles, a judge should discharge his duty as a judicial officer without favour, bias or prejudice at all times.“Further, the said principles dictate that he shall conduct himself in court and outside court in such a way that maintains and enhances the confidence in the public of the legal profession and the litigants before him. With respect and in light of what I have submitted, the judge does not meet this requirement and, therefore, must recuse himself in this regard,” he argued.“The honourable justice on being charged with the said offence, which remains unprosecuted due to reasons beyond one’s comprehension, and in terms of the Bangalore Principles, should have submitted himself to prosecution to prove his innocence and in the interim he should not hear and or adjudicate any matters before the Industrial Court of Eswatini,” averred the applicant.

Principles

This, according to the applicant, the judge should have done voluntarily to show that he upheld the principles of his profession close to his heart at all times.“Therefore, for the reasons stated above and for the clear bias which has been demonstrated by the honourable justice and the clear violations of his code of conduct and the denial that was made by him of any knowledge of our relationship and proximity leads me to believe that he will not be competent, independent and impartial as the law dictates,” he argued. He submitted that there was allegedly a reasonable apprehension that Judge Dlamini would allegedly be biased towards him for fear of what might befall him and further in fear for his tenure in office.According to Mbongwa, the judge had allegedly demonstrated this previously and in the present matter.  The matter will be argued on Tuesday and the respondents are yet to file their papers.