MISA-Swaziland (Mbabane)

1 June 2014

Swaziland: Appeal Court Overturns 2013 Contempt Conviction Against Bheki Makhubu

Photo: Leadership
Court gavel.

press release

An appeal court in Swaziland on Friday 30 May set aside a criminal contempt of court ruling against Bheki Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine.

In the same ruling, the appeal court reduced the penalty relating to another contempt charge faced by Makhubu and the magazine.

Front page of Observer on Saturday, May 31, 2014

Read more in the local press by clicking on this link:

Read the full Appeal Court ruling on Swaziland's legal website, 'SwaziLii', by clicking here.

Makhubu and The Nation were last year convicted on two counts of contempt of court after publishing articles criticising the judiciary while calling for the rule of law to be upheld.

The initial penalty in the lower court (the High Court) ordered Makhubu and and The Nation to pay $US20,000 within three days or else Makhubu would be sent to jail for two years. Makhubu lodged an appeal within those three days which stayed proceedings until the appeal case was heard and ruling delivered on May 30, 2014, last Friday.

In a separate saga, Makhubu and The Nation, along with prominent lawyer and Nation columnist Thulani Maseko, were earlier this year charged with contempt of court after writing opinion pieces in which they criticise the judiciary while calling for the courts to adhere to the Constitution

. Makhubu and Maseko are both detained in jail as this current contempt of court trial plays out. They have both been in jail for over 70 days. Members of the public, journalists, civic groups and foreign diplomats have sporadically been barred from visiting the two men at Sidwashini prison, just north of the capital Mbabane. The ongoing contempt trial continues tomorrow morning, June 2, at Swaziland's high court.

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