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Reporter summoned before High Court

(MISA/IFEX) - "Public Eye" Chief Reporter Khutliso Sekoati has been summoned to appear before the High Court on 4 September 2006 to show cause why his 14 July article in "Public Eye", titled "Judges in line as targets of corruption", or portions thereof that are considered to call into question the High Court judges' integrity, should not be withdrawn.

He is also requested to show cause why he should not offer a written apology in the same newspaper to the satisfaction of the Chief Justice and Judges of the High Court.

According to the summons, if the reporter fails to show cause of the above, he "shall be seen to have committed contempt."

Sekoati has been a vocal critic of a government scheme in which ministers can buy luxury Mercedes-Benz Compressor cars for only 4,000 Maloti (approx. US$554) while principal secretaries pay only 2,500 Maloti (approx. US$347) for Toyota Camry Cars, as a result of a deal between the government and a car rental company, Imperial Fleet Services.

The scheme is generally regarded as corrupt and has prompted civil society organisations to rebuke the government.

Sekoati questioned the government's move to bring the judges into the scheme. Such a move is widely seen as bringing the independence of the judiciary into question.

The summons says the article is considered prima facie contemptuous of the Judges of the High Court. It goes further to say the article conveys a perception in the mind of a reasonable reader that judges are corrupt or corruptible.

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