Mvoko wins appeal: SABC old guard now completely routed

It’s a busy afternoon, writing columns for the weekend deadline, but I have had to take time out to read an important judgment, delivered by the Supreme Court of Appeal today in the case of sacked SABC journalist, Vuyo Mvoko. The decision makes for very satisfying reading. For example, the judges found the SABC must reinstate his original contract, schedule his work as before – and pay his costs. And they found the SABC had behaved very badly. Here is a sample paragraph: “The highest standards of journalism and of integrity in public administration can rightly be expected of the SABC. The political interference complained of by Mr Mvoko is, as already pointed out, uncontested. It is inexcusable and rather than rendering Mr Mvoko liable to disciplinary action it calls for an enquiry into the conduct of the SABC in its role as public broadcaster.” #SABC8

Lessons from Rwanda for SA

WHEN the government of Rwanda recently applied to the United Kingdom’s secretary of state for the extradition of five alleged genocidaires, it claimed a “sea change” had taken place in the way Rwanda’s courts operated. Concerns expressed by the UK courts in earlier judgments had now been met, and the suspects should be extradited to face trial in their home country.

But when the UK’s high court of justice examined the evidence, the judges disagreed with this assessment. In their important recent decision, they reviewed crucial information on the situation in Rwanda and refused the appeal saying that if the five were extradited to their home country they “would be at risk of a flagrant denial of fair trial”

“Sincere belief” in witchcraft no bar to death penalty

Belief in witchcraft will no longer automatically keep the death penalty at bay in Zambian murder cases, according to a landmark new judgment of that country’s Supreme Court.

Five judges of Zambia’s highest court, including the Chief Justice and the deputy Chief Justice, have agreed that the days of referring to one’s ‘sincere belief’ in witchcraft to get around the death penalty are over. They also slammed believers in witchcraft for targeting women and the elderly.

The court was considering the appeal of two men convicted of murders directly related to witchcraft, and given life sentences.

When a judge goes rogue …

Ever since her appointment as Chief Justice of the Seychelles in 2015, Mathilda Twomey, the first woman to hold this position, has been a target of sexist behaviour and threats by a particular senior colleague on the Bench. But though this judge, Durai Karunakaran, was unanimously recommended for dismissal almost a month ago, by an impeachment tribunal citing ‘serious and gross’ misbehaviour – including ‘forging orders of court’ – no further steps have been taken against him. Instead, the Chief Justice herself is now threatened with an impeachment inquiry. Carmel Rickard takes a look at the tribunal report on Karunakaran and at recent legal changes that threaten judicial independence and the rule of law in the Seychelles.