November 4, 2002

SADC Judges condemn Swazi king's threat to judiciary

Meanwhile, the chief justices of the Southern African Development Community region have condemned an attempt by the Swaziland monarchy to sack the judges hearing the case of a teenaged girl allegedly kidnapped by the Swazi king to become his bride.

In a statement sent through South African chief justice Arthur Chaskalson's office on Monday, November 4, the SADC chief justices of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe said the attempts to frustrate court proceedings on the alleged abduction were "a direct threat to the independence of the judiciary whose responsibility is to uphold the law without fear or favour". The SADC chief justices said the refusal by the Swazi chief justice and other court officials to bow to this pressure was in accordance with the best traditions of their office.

Earlier on Monday, South African advocates and opposition politicians condemned King Mswati's "disregard for the law" in his bid to marry the girl despite legal attempts to stop the union. The General Council of the Bar of South Africa urged the SADC and the African Union to intervene and secure respect for the rule of law in Swaziland. (SAPA, Johannesburg)

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