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Judge claims CJ instructs how cases must be decided

The crisis in Zimbabwe heightened this week, with a spotlight now pointed at internal problems within the judiciary. First, a judge who was suspended on contested grounds has launched an urgent application to prevent a disciplinary tribunal from being set up to investigate her. In the course of her founding affidavit she made some grave allegations against the Chief Justice, for example, saying that he routinely intervened to ensure judges decided matters in a certain way.

Seldom has the judiciary of any country in this region been in the kind of mess now seen in Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa had no sooner announced that he had removed Judge Francis Bere from his position on the bench for unethical conduct, than a second bombshell exploded.

Attorney loses battle with Chief Justice over dirty hands

Strange to say, there are two current cases in the region citing a Chief Justice as respondent in a civil matter. Apart from the grave issue involving the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe (see above), there is another case in which the respondent is a Chief Justice. This time it is the judicial head of Eswatini, Bheki Maphalala, who was sued as a respondent, along with the government of Eswatini and the attorney general.

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Stripped of niceties, the point of this application was to win judicial support for attorney Muzi Simelane’s plea: the Chief Justice had barred him from appearing before any court in Eswatini and he was hoping that the high court would find the notice by the CJ to be ‘unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid’.

Mapping legal impact of the African Court

As the number of decisions by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights grows, legal scholars have become keen to track its influence. Now there’s a formal project dedicated to doing just that – and it needs your help.

Are you a lawyer, judge, clerk, NGO or legal professional? Have you used the case law of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights in your work?

If so, the new AfCite Project would be keen to hear from you at africancourtmap [at]

Support rule of law – by sharing law books

A small charity based in the United Kingdom has been helping judges, lawyers and NGOs by providing them with law books. The books are free and must be requested online. 

You may not have heard of it – it is a small UK-based charity after all – but since 2005 the International Law Book Facility has been able to send more than 66 000 law books to over 50 countries in Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe.

No evidence, no arrest - Kenya high court

A prominent Kenyan legal academic and practising advocate, Professor Tom Odhiambo Ojienda, is in the midst of a running battle between himself and the country’s tax bosses and prosecution services. The authorities claim that he has not paid tax on payment for work in a series of cases. The claims are particularly damaging for Ojienda, given that his law company advertises itself as ‘a top-tier law firm comprising a dedicated team of advocates and support staff offering expert legal advice’.

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One of Kenya’s best-known lawyers, Professor Tom Odhiambo Ojienda, has won a significant battle in the continuing war between himself and the prosecution services.

Elections for Africa's top human rights bodies should be transparent, merit-based

African Human Rights Day seems like a good time to reflect on an issue that affects all three of the continent’s premier human rights bodies: the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

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Amnesty International has released a report coinciding with African Human Rights Day, October 21. This is the day on which, in 1986, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights first came into effect.


On the 9th of September 2020 George Bizos, that unrelenting crusader for justice, succumbed to death at a ripe age of 92.

George Bizos was a legend. He was an unmatched champion of human rights and unquestionably committed to the cause of humanity especially the oppressed and downtrodden. The record speaks for itself: he played a pivotal role in many major human rights trials, among them the Treason Trial, the Rivonia Trial, the Nusas Five Trial, the Delmas Treason Trial.

A new anti-corruption hero – and a judge who holds the line

A woman who held firm against a shady 'fronting' scheme has been vindicated by the high court in Mombasa. After Rachel Ndambuki refused to become part of the scheme she was demoted and sent to another office. However, she persisted with her legal action, saying her transfer and demotion had infringed a number of her rights and that she should be paid damages.

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I’ve never met her, but Kenya’s Rachel Ndambuki has become a hero. That’s because of the way that she has stood up strongly against corruption. Likewise, I’ve not met Judge James Rika, but he has my respect because of how firmly he has held the line against government officials who flout court orders, and even ignore contempt findings.

World Mental Health Day highlights shackling, inadequate court response

Just as Human Rights Watch issued its horrific report on the shackling of people with mental illness in many countries around the world, so an equally horrific case has emerged in Namibia. The report and the case show that there is a great deal still to be done to sensitise ordinary members of communities round the world – and, sadly, this includes magistrates, whom one might expect to know better – about how to respond to mental illness and what the law and the constitution require in such cases.

Court dismisses bid to remove 'dirty money' report

As concern grows about enormous amounts of money unlawfully leaving Africa, two new reports and a significant court case highlight the growing problem. A new report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, 'Economic Development in Africa 2020', estimates that if illicit capital flight from Africa were stopped, it could virtually halve the financing gap of $200b that the continent faces if it is to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals.

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Read Golden Laundromat report


Why did the applicants in this case imagine they had a case? I still haven’t been able to work it out.