Chiefs in Swaziland have the legal right to evict their subjects if they defy their authority, the kingdom’s High Court ruled.
Swazi High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala dismissed a man’s application to stop Ezulwini Chief Sifiso Khumalo from evicting him, local media report.
Sandile Hadebe from Ezulwini had been evicted by the chief after he had expelled his deceased elder brother’s widow and her two children from her marital home. Hadebe refused to allow them back, even after the chief had issued such a ruling, and also failed to pay two cows as a fine.
This led to the chief evicting him from his area for defiance, but Hadebe challenged the decision at the High Court, saying he had a clear right to live at his homestead.
Judge Maphalala ruled that in Swaziland the king made the decisions about how nation land was used and in this case Hadebe had no rights.
King Mswati III is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The judge also said that the king ruled through chiefs and therefore Chief Sifiso Khumalo acted on behalf of the king when he evicted Hadebe.
Judge Maphalala said the Swazi Constitution played no part in this case. ‘In terms of Swazi Law and Custom, Khumalo has a right to evict him from the chiefdom for defying his authority,’ he added.