The African Law Service brings diverse commentary on legal developments from across our African continent.
SEVERAL cases in Swaziland have come to a halt over the last weeks because judges have recused themselves. Their decisions raise the questions whether they were correct to do so in the circumstances, and how litigation can proceed when judicial officers decline to hear a matter.
Without a written judgment on recusal decisions it is not easy to know whether the thinking measures up to constitutional standards, but in at least one case, the judges concerned are to be formally asked for reasons in writing.
WHEN Judge Chacha Mwita sounded just a little exasperated at the end of his decision in the case of Laura Lumbasio against the Kenya School of Law, no-one could blame him.
THE story that caught the eye of Judge Alphas Chitakunye concerned trainee nurse, Elizabeth Kalenga. The young woman had begged the court for mercy when she stood trial in connection with using forged papers to gain entrance to the training course. She pleaded with the Harare magistrate who heard her case not to impose a jail sentence as she has two young children.
This article first appeared in LegalBrief.
WHEN an unnamed couple began divorce action in Namibia no-one could have foreseen that it would result in new law, changing long-standing norms about who may give expert psychological evidence in that country.
At the heart of this particular element of the couple’s dispute was the question: when a psychologist from another country gives evidence in Namibia, does it amount to ‘practising’ there?
Led by the SACJF chair, Namibian Chief Justice Peter Shivute and deputy chair, Malawi Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, the mission noted that Seychelles moved from a one-party state, to a multi-party democratic constitutional state in 1993.
During their visit they met a wide range of stakeholders who shared with them the dominant perceptions about the charges against the two senior judges: that they were politically motivated investigations, but from opposite sides of the political divide.
THE arrest and intended prosecution of Kenya’s deputy chief justice, Philomena Mwilu, reflects some of the painful and difficult strands in that country’s legal and political story. On the one hand there is the problem of restoring the reputation of the judiciary after a long period in which corruption on the bench was an acknowledged fact. On the other, the government in Kenya is not known for showing respect to the now-reformed judiciary and its decisions.
THE case of the 42 magistrates is another long-running legal battle aimed at reversing some of the “radical surgery” performed on the Kenyan judiciary in the years from 2002.
That was the year in which tough steps were taken to root out corruption within the judicial sphere and a number of judges and other judicial officers were let go.
The unusual court case was the result of a long-running feud within Namibia’s Ondonga traditional authority and involves senior traditional leaders and advisers to the King, the “Omukwaniilwa” of Ondonga. At some stage six of these advisers were sacked and they then asked the court to intervene.