IN THE HIGH COURT OF ESWATINI
Held at Mbabane Case No.: 1372/2019
In the matter between
ALLEN MABUZA 1st Applicant
PIGG’S PEAK BLACK SWALLOWS FOOTBALL CLUB 2nd Applicant
THE PLAYER’S STATUS COMMITTEE 1ST Respondent
SIPHO MATSE N.O. 2nd Respondent
MBABANE HIGHLANDERS FOOTBALL CLUB 3rd Respondent
THE SECRETARIAT OF ESWATINI FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION 4th Respondent
THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF ESWATINI 5th Respondent
Neutral Citation: Allen Mabuza & Another Vs The Player’s Status Committee And 4 Others (1372/2019, 1429/2019)  SZHC 153 ( 18th September 2019)
Coram: Hlophe J.
For the Plaintiff: Mr M. Dlamini
For the Defendants: Mr Z. Shabangu
Date Heard: 12th September 2019
Date Judgement Delivered: 18th September 2019
 Two separate applications were bought by the applicant under a certificate of urgency. The peculiarity about these applications is that they were between the same parties, all for all, and sought reviews of certain decisions taken by the First, Second and Fifth Respondents. These decisions had adversely affected the applicants (that is they were against the applicants), whilst favouring in different ways the Third Respondent. By virtue of its special position in the affairs of the First and Fifth Respondents, the decisions in question had to be communicated by the Fourth Respondent in each instance. The two applicants were under case nos: 1372/2019 and 1429/2019.
 The decision challenged under case no.1372/2019 was about a suspension of the First Applicant as a professional soccer player. It shortly suspended him from partaking in any soccer activities organized or carried out under the auspices of the Fifth Respondent, which is the authority governing all soccer matters in this country. This suspension was pending an investigation on his status as a soccer player. In other words it was pending a determination which one of the two disputing clubs he was a player for as they each claimed he was their player. These two teams are of course the Second Applicant and the Third Respondent. It is not in dispute that these two teams, are currently participating or competing in the Premier League of Eswatini, which is run under the auspices of the Fifth Respondent.
 The decision challenged under case no.1429/2019 concerned the deregistration of the First Applicant as a player for the Second Applicant, by the Fifth Respondent, following a recommendation by the First and Second Respondents. This decision followed the investigation aluded to by the First Respondent Committee when it communicated the suspension referred to under case no.1472/2019 referred above. The suspension had in fact been pending the determination as to which team the First Applicant was a proper player for. So the decision for the deregistration of the First Applicant as a player for the Second Applicant, challenged under case no;1429/2019, had been reached after the First Respondent had found, following their investigation as aluded to when the suspension challenged under case no.1372/2019 was made, that the First Applicant was a player for the Third Respondent, Mbabane Highlanders and not one for Piggs Peak Black Swallows, the Second Applicant.
 The thrust of the applicant’s complaint in both matters is that the First applicant (perhaps even the Second Applicant), had not been afforded a hearing prior to each one of the decisions being complained of was taken. It was also contended that other than the alleged failure to accord the applicants a hearing, the First Respondent ( and perhaps the Fifth Respondent) were accused of having exhibited baias against the applicants in favour of the Third Respondent, during the hearing of the matter hence the decisions complained of.
 This latter aspect of the matter was put somewhat differently in the application under case 1372/2019 as there was sought two declatory orders these; one contending that the First and Second Respondents, had acted ultra vires (that is outside) their powers when they recommended the suspension of the First Applicant from participating in all soccer activities organized or held under the auspices of the Fifth Respondent and two contention that the first and Second Respondents had no power to make unilateral and mero mutu suspension of a player pending a proposed investigation of a player’s status.
 Ofcourse at the heart of these latter two complaints is the one or contention that the First and Second Respondents had supposedly acted in the manner they did because they allegedly lacked impartiality and that they had improperly taken sides in the matter, particularly the side of the Third Respondent hence their having had to supposedly act outside their mandate or powers when they recommended the suspension and also when they unilateral took the same decision to suspend the First Applicant.
 The undisputed relevant facts of the matter are that during the 2018/2019 soccer season in Eswatini, (that is the season that runs between August of one year and May of the following year), precisely around September 2018, the Third Respondent, following engagements and eventual agreements, loaned its then player, the First Applicant, to the First Applicant. This “loaning” of the First Applicant to the Second Applicant was for one season only, being the 2018/2019 season. Whatever else the notion of a loan my mean under commerce, in the soccer parlance, it simply means the release of a particular player by his soccer team for specified period, usually one season, to try his trade in another team. This is usually pursuant an agreed fee.
 The loan agreement was concluded between the two teams and the player did not append his signature to the agreement. Whether this was a norm or even a requirement, is a moot point, as the Applicant say it was not necessary whilst the Respondents contend otherwise. This agreement was concluded or signed by the parties (the two Soccer Clubs) on the 20th September 2018.
 The relevant terms of the loan agreement concerned provided that the player was being loaned to the Second Applicant for the 2018/2019 soccer season. During the tenancy of the loan, it was agreed that the player was to remain a player for the Third Respondent whilst plying his trade with the Second Applicant and he was not to be transferred to any other team by the latter team. Implicit to the player’s having been loaned to the Second Applicant for the season concerned was a reversion to the team that had loaned him to the other one at the end of that season.
 To effect the transfer of the First Respondent to the Second Applicant, issued a document referred to as a Clearance Certificate of the player addressed to the Secretary General of the Fifth Respondent whilst copied to the Premier League of Swaziland as the entity that controlled the league of Eswatini. This one was issued on the 19th September, a day before signing of the loan agreement referred to above. Of note, and that which became an issue between the parties, is the fact that the Clearance Certificate did not say anything about it being issued for a particular period nor for any particular season. The Applicants who had neither annexed nor mentioned the existence of the loan agreement to or in their papers, contended there this factor signified that the transfer of, the player to them was an ‘out and out’ transfer of the player as opposed to a loan. The Respondents however, who did not only refute the applicants’ contention but went on to annex the loan agreement signed between the parties, contended the contrary.
 It may be important to mention that it became a matter of common cause between the parties that when the loan agreement was concluded in September 2018, the contract in existence between the First Applicant, and the Third Respondent which had empowered the latter to lay a claim over the former was meant to expire on the 31st December 2018. It was neither admitted nor disputed whether or not the said agreement or contract had a reviewal clause.
 The First Applicant plied his trade with the Second Applicant for the whole of the 2018/2019 soccer season. At that time the Second Applicant was campaigning in the First Division which is a lower level to the Premier League of Eswatini. Otherwise at the end of the season concerned, the First Applicant was promoted to the Premier League of Eswatini.
 During the recess leading to the commencement of the 2019/2020 season, and after the lapse of the 2018/2019 season, precisely on the 19th July 2019, the First Applicant and Third Respondent concluded a contract in terms of which the First Applicant was being bound or became a player of Mbabane Highlanders, the Third Respondent for another three years. The commencement date was recorded as the 4th July 2019 while the termination date was recorded to be the 3rd July 2022.
 Subsequent to the conclusion of the said agreement, the First Applicant was, in terms of the schedule signed by the parties to the contract shown to have been paid a signing on fee of E20,000.00 while he was to be paid a salary of E6,500.00 as at the end of that month, which it was not indispute was eventually paid to the First Applicant. Under normal circumstances these would indicate that the First Applicant was confirming his being a Mbabane Highlanders player for the period contained in the contract.
 I say ordinarily this would signify he was a Mbabane Highlanders player because there are three issues revealed in the papers and during argument which are a damper in confirming this. They are firstly the papers, particularly under case no.1372/2019 when, that he had not signed the loan agreement concluded between the Second Applicant and the Third Respondent purportedly loaming him to the Second Applicant. He said as far as he knew he had been transferred unconditionally to Black Swallows. According to him he was required to sign the loan agreement together with the First Applicant and the Third Respondent.
 Secondly, he says that he was forced to sign a letter purporting to report a complaint to the First or Fifth Respondent by him claiming he was a Mbabane Highlanders Player. This he says he had been coerced ad unduly influenced to sign, which is to say he was under duress and undue influence when he signed same. It will be noted, this letter of complaint was later withdrawn before a determination on it was made. The point here is that if indeed there was duress and influence (after credible proof) then the contents of that letter would under the common law not be attributable to him.
 Thirdly, it is an undisputed fact I was addressed on during the hearing of the matter namely that the contract between the First Applicant and the Third Respondent, which entitled the latter to “loan” the former to Piggs Peak Black Swallows, expired or lapsed on the 30th December 2018. Other than the player (the First Applicant) himself signing another contract with a three year duration in July 2019, it is not unequivocal what his status was between January 2019 and May 2019 when he continued to play for the Second Applicant. It would seem plausible to conclude that he was still a player of the Third Respondent considering the contents of the loan agreement between him and the Third Respondent which had ‘released’ him for the 2018/2019 season. This however may not necessarily be the case considering the soccer rules which may be a field calling for the certain expertise which may only be reposited with the special committes of the Fifth Respondent.
 The point being made here is that the three instances referred to above, although they would not present much of a problem to resolve under the common law, the same thing may not necessarily follow in terms of the practice and the various rules and regulations of the game of soccer. Owing to the nature of the matter, I felt it necessary to comment in this manner.
 It would appear that after signing the new contract with the Third Respondent, and after having received the signing on fee of E20,000.00 and the E6,500.00 salary for July 2019, the Second Applicant refused to clear the player back to the Third Respondent, prompting it to lodge a complaint. This complaint was somewhat settled at the door of the place where it was to be heard; with the parties undertaking to resolve their dispute amicably. It was only when the resolution could not be reached for whatever reason to have written under duress and undue influence was registered as the basis of a complaint by him to the Fifth Respondent, asking for a resolution could not be reached for whatever reason that the letter the First Applicant claimed to have written under duress and undue influence was registered as the basis of a complaint by him to the Fifth Respondent, asking for a resolution of his status, particularly that he was in fact a player for the Second Applicant.
 This supposed complaint by the First Applicant was itself withdrawn before determination by the First Respondent. Like the earlier one, this happened at the door of the place where the hearing was meant to take place. Although the First Applicant was not in attendance there, the Second Applicant and his attorney were there. The First Applicant had only deposed to an affidavit confirming he was withdrawing his said complaint.
 It was at this point that the First Respondent decided to suspend the First Applicant from all soccer activities conducted under the auspices of the Fifth Respondent. As it pronounced its decision, the First Respondent also indicated that it was going to embark on an investigations of issues surrounding the controversy as to which team the First Applicant belonged to. Before the suspension concerned the First Applicant had not been afforded a hearing. Furthermore, none of the parties had applied for it, but it was issued mero mutu by the First Respondent, it appears, without having even asked to be addressed by the Applicants’ Legal Representativess at the least. This decision was taken on the 5th August 2019.
 On the 23rd August 2019, the Applicants instituted Case No.1372/2019, complaining in the main that they had not been heard prior to a prejudicial decision being taken. They contended further that because of the manner in which the impugned decision was taken, the First Respondent was biased against them in favour of the Third Respondent and also that he did not have the power to issue or make such a decision that is a decision to suspend the player. They argued further that the bias of the First Respondent against it was cemented by the investigation meant to be carried out unilaterally by the same Respondent. They had a problem with this because over and above the investigations, the First Respondent was to take a decision. This was irregular because it made the First and Second Respondents, Judges in their cause as one could not in law be an investigator and determiner or decider of facts.
 The facts show that the First Respondent had, whilst carrying out the investigation prepared a report titled “Players Status Committee Report: Re: Allen Mabuza – Investigating Submitted Documents.” At the heart of this report was a revelation that the First Respondent Committee Members went to Piggs Peak to investigate certain documents allegedly submitted by the Second Applicant before them. These comprised a certain seek sheet dated 15th August 2019 and an affidavit deposed to by Allen Mabuza dated 16th August 2019. In Piggs Peak they went to the Government Hospital and to the Piggs Peak Police Station. At the Hospital they allegedly found that the First Applicant’s name did not appear on the log book, where all hospital attendees were allegedly meant to appear. At the police station they consulted a certain officer Methula. It was discovered that although the stamp confirming the oath and appearing on the affidavit was from the Piggs Peak Police, the signature was allegedly not known ( I assume to Mr Methula). The signature was by virtue of the force number appearing on it associated to an officer allegedly based at the Police Collegee under Royal Guards. They then construed that the affidavit was not authentic because a Police Officer from the Royal Guards could not have signed at the Piggs Peak Police Station.
 I note that neither with regards the sick sheet nor the affidavit in question, did the First Respondent confront the Applicants, in particular the First Applicant so that he could explain where he had got those documents from including the circumstances under which they had been issued. To try and reach conclusions without that having been done makes the whole thing look preposterous, particularly the decision made.
 Whilst the hearing of case no.1372/2019 was meant to be proceeded with on the 29th August 2019, the Respondents, particularly the First Respondent proceeded with the hearing of the complaint lodged before it, particularly an ascertainment of the correct status of the Applicant. This was done on the 28th August 2019. The facts reveal that in that setting a decision was taken to the effect that the First applicant was actually a Mbabane Highlanders Player.
 When the suspension challenge was meant to be proceeded with on the 29th August 2019, this Court per Mlangeni J, issued an interim order staying the suspension. The Court also raised a query on the propriety of the First Respondent having pronounced itself on the status of the player without having resolved the question of the suspension which was already pending in Court. The matter of the suspension had, after the issuance of the interim order, been postponed to some future date.
 Although the First Applicant whose status was meant to be decided, he was represented by his current Attorney Mr Dlamini, whereas the Second Applicant was represented by the latter’s Director, Mr Charles Matsebula. At the commencement of the hearing of the 28th August 2019 before the Player’s Status Committee, the First Applicant’s Legal Representative, Mr Dlamini, made two applications, one to be allowed to electronically record the proceedings for his own personal use and two, for the members of the status committee as then constituted, to recuse themselves on the grounds that they were allegedly biased and or conflicted that they had conducted investigations when they were adjudicators of the issues entailed in the matter to which their investigation related. Both applications were dismissed for whatever reasons advanced. The applicants however felt that this was indicative of the First Respondent’s lack of neutrality in the matter.
 The First Applicant’s legal Representative, applied for the postponement of the matter claiming he needed to prepare himself for the merits he had only concentrated on the recusal, which had just been turned down. This application was dismissed as well and it was ordered that the matter had already been postponed many times prior, there was no concrete reason advanced in my view for the refusal to postpone the matter. This was notwithstanding the fact that there did not seem to be any foreseeable irreparable damage.
 In response to the failure by the First Respondent to postpone matter, the First Respondent’s Attorney withdrew there and then as he felt he would not discharge his made properly in those circumstances. Even after this decision by the Applicants Counsel,, the Respondent would not be dissuaded from their decision of proceeding with the matter. Even an intervention by the Second Applicants’ Director, Mr Matsebula could not prevail differently with the First Respondent. The latter proceeded with the matter and decided that from the documents it had including what they had unilaterally found when investigating, the First Applicant was a Mbabane Highlanders Player. It was thus directed that the Fourth Respondent ensures that he is deregistered as a Piggs Peak Black Swallows player without delay.
 The Applicants responded by instituting the proceedings under case no.1429/2019, where they prayed inter alia that the decision deregistering the First Applicant as a player for the Second Applicant be reviewed, corrected and set aside. It was further prayed that a declaratory issues to the effect that the First and Second Respondents were prejudised against the Applicants in favour of the Third Respondent whom they were in favour of. In the event of the review succeeding, the court was effectively asked to order that new members of the status committee be appointed to rehear the matter.
 After the grant of the order staying the suspension of the First Applicant pending finalization had been granted, case no. 1372/2019 had been postponed to the 18th September 2019. Case no.1429/2019 which had come as an urgent matter on 5th of September 2019, was postponed to the 13th September 2019 for hearing after all the parties would have filed all the necessary papers to enable the matter proceed. On the latter date, when only case no.1429/2019 was meant to be proceeded with, an application to have both case no.1379/2019 and case no.1429/2019 consolidated was heard and granted by consent of the parties. It is for this reason this judgement is about both matters.
 I need to mention that on the day the decision to suspend the First Applicant from all soccer activities organized by the Fifth Respondent was communicated to the Second Applicant, there was a game of soccer featuring the Second Applicant and another team. According to the Applicant’s Counsel’s submission when they got that information they were already checking the player’s cards readying play the game. Allegedly not understanding the basis for the said suspension, the Second Applicant went on to play the First Applicant. This was to later attract a protest to the Fifth Respondent against the Second Applicant based on its having used a player under suspension. Ofcourse the suspension was later stayed by the order of this court issued by Justice Mlangeni on the 29th September 2018, but this did not determine the protest which is still outstanding.
 I touch on this because I had to enquire from both counsel during the hearing of the matter if it was still relevant or necessary for this court to decide the propriety or otherwise of the decision relating to the suspension of the first applicant now that the First Respondent had decided for which team the First applicant was a player. It was argued on behalf of the applicants that it was still relevant or necessary to decide the question of the propriety of the suspension of the First Applicant. Without further inquiry on the correctness of this submission it was agreed, that the issue of the suspension is still very relevant and this is the reason why both of them are being decided.
 It is important to note that although these applications are about different decisions being reviewed the prayers are more or less similar. They are mainly the review being sought on the grounds that the Applicants had not been heard before each such decision was reached as well as the contention that the decisions complained of were either irrational or unreasonable. Specifically reserved for case no.1372/2019, there is as well a prayer for a declaratory that the First and Second Respondents acted ultra vires (outside) their powers when they recommended a suspension of the player in question just as it is contended this court should declare these Respondents have no power to unilaterally or mero mutu suspend a player pending the investigation of a player.
 With regards the question of the hearing or lack thereof before the impugned decisions, it is a fact that in neither of them was a hearing conducted before the decisions in question were taken. Whatever argument may have been made in the papers, it is a fact that there was no insistence from any of the Respondents’ Counsel that the, Applicants had been afforded a hearing before the decisions complained of were taken.
 The imperative nature of a fair hearing before a decision, particularly an administrative one is taken, has been a subject of numerous judgements of our courts including this Court and the Supreme Court. Our law has this significance covered both under the constitution and the common law. The Constitution has this significance covered in section 33 of the constitution of this country where it deals with administrative justice. It there provides as follows:-
“Right to Administrative Justice”
(1) A person appearing before any administration authority has a right to be heard and to be treated justly and fairly in accordance with the requirements imposed by law including the requirements of fundamented justice or fairness and has a right to apply to a court of law in respect of any decision taken against that person with which that person is aggrieved.
(2) A person appearing before any administrative authority has a right to be given reasons in writing for the decision of that authority.”
 It is therefore a Constitutional imperative, in this jurisdiction for a person offering before an administrative body to be heard and to be treated justly and fairly in accordance with the requirements of law before a prejudicial decision can be made against such a person. Clearly in so far as such a person was neither given a hearing nor treated justly and fairly there is hardly a doubt that such a decision should not stand. It was not seriously argued nor was it in dispute that in this matter there had been no hearing and that therefore it was not possible to even contend that the Applicants, particularly the first applicant, was dealt with fairly and justly.
 Other than it being emphasized by the constitution, the requirement to hear a person against whom a prejudicial decision is likely to be made is an ages old one. The common law traces it to the Garden of Eden when God himself is said to have given Adam a hearing before meting out punishment following his having eaten the fruit he had been forbidden from eating. It has been traced to a 1723 case cited in full as R V University of Cambridge (1723) 1STR 557 as reported on in H.W.R. Wade: Administrative Law, Sixth Edition, Claredon Press, Oxford, Page 499 to 500.
 The right to be heard which is also known as the Audi AlteramPartern, was defined as follows in Presidentof Bophuthatswana And Others V Segulard 1994 (4) SA 96 at 98:-
“The Audi alteram Partern” rule is a principle of natural justice which promotes fairness by requiring persons exercising statutory powers which affect the rights or property of others to be afforded a hearing before the exercise of such powers. It has existed from antiquity and is today the cornerstone of the administrative laws of all civilized countries.”
 In Administrator Transvaal V Trambe 1989 ZASCA 90 or 1989 (4) All S.A. 924 (AD) the audi alteram principle and its significance in our law was put as follows:-
“When a statute empowers a public officer to give a decision prejudicially affecting an individual in his liberty or property or existing rights, the latter has a right to be heard before the decision is taken (or in some instances thereafter) unless the statute expressly or by implication indicates the contrary.”
 In line with this diction, in a case like the present, where a decision to suspend the First Applicant from practicing his trade which was a source of his livelihood it cannot be gain said that there was a need to hear the said applicant before such a decision was made. The same thing applies in the instance where it was decided that he was a soccer player for a different club than the one he wanted to play for at the time. It has been emphasized that this decision has nothing to do with the correctness or otherwise of the impugned decision. See in this regard Meshack Makhubu and Others Vs Regional education Officer for Hhohho Region and Another, High Court Case No.25/2019  SZHC39.
 In the seminal Judgement of Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions Vs President of The Industrial Court of Swaziland and Another Case No. (1197)  SZSC 8 at Paragraph 10, the following was said which captures very well the audi alteram principle:-
“The audi alteram partern principle i.e. that the other party must be heard before an order can be granted against him, is one of the oldest and most universally applied principles of our law. That no man is to be Judged unheard was a precept known to the Greeks, was inscribed in ancient times upon images in places where justice was administered, is enshrined in the scriptures, was asserted by an 18th century English Judge to be a principle of devine justice and traced to the events in the Garden of Eden, and has been applied in cases from 1723 to the present time. (See De Smith; Judicial Review of Administrative Action Page 156; Chief Constable, Pietermaritzburg V Ishini (1908) 29 NLR 338 at 341). Embraced in the principle is also the rule that an interested party against whom an order may be made must be informed of any possible prejudicial facts or considerations that may be raised against him in order to afford him the opportunity of responding to them or defending himself against them, (See Weichers: Administrative reg 2nd edition. Page 237.”
 It seems to me that from the facts of the matter, it can never be in dispute that when the suspension was issued against the First Respondent without him having been heard including when the order that he be deregistered as a player for the Second Applicant and be registered as one for Mbabane Highlanders, he was being judged without being heard. It worsened it that some mero mutu and unilateral investigations were conducted by those who were supposed to sit in judgement over their contents with regards the First Applicants’ status as a player. This irregularity, at least from the point of view of the failure to afford a party a hearing, is made more manifest by the fact that after whatever information was uncovered during the hearing, the First Applicant against whom an adverse decision was being taken was never confronted with same for him to react thereto, contrary to the principle laid down in the above quoted excerpt from the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions case.
 Having construed that in both matters there was no hearing before the prejudicial decision were taken against the applicants, the next question what should be the effect of such a finding on the decisions under review. In other words, does it ipro facto follow that they should be set aside with the matter being referred to the structures that took the decisions complained of? I ask this question because of what I see when I consider the strength or otherwise of the Applicant’s case in the merits.
 The view I hold is that this question can best be answered by what was said in the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions Vs President of The Industrial Court and Another Judgement (Supra) at Paragraph 17 where the position was put as follows:-
“A clear violation of natural justice will, in every instance, vitiate an order and no room for judicial discretion as to whether to set it aside can, in such instances exist.” (underlining added)
 In Meshack Makhubu and Another Vs The Regional Education Officer For The Hhohho Region, High Court Case No.25/2019  SZHC 39, I quoted the following excerpt from the Boxter: Administrative Law at Page 540:-
“The Principles of natural justice are considered to be so important that they are enforced by the Courts as a matter of Policy, irrespective of the merits of the particular case in question. Being fundamental principles of good administration their enforcement serves as a lesson for future administrative action. But more than that, and whatever the merits of the particular case, it is a denial of justice in itself for natural justice to be ignored. The policy of the courts was crisply stated by Lord Wright in 1843:-
“If the principles of Natural justice are violated in respect of any decision, it is, indeed, immaterial whether the same decision would have been arrived at in the absence of the departure from the essential principles of justice. The decision must be declared to be no decision.” See General Medical Council V Spackman,  AC 627, at 644 -645.”
 A great deal of time was spent during the hearing with all counsel being directed by this court to address on whether, looking at the hitherto prima facie case in the merits it was necessary to even set aside the judgement. I was then considering the strong possibility that even if I were to set aside the decisions in question, there was, when considering the contracts signed between the parties herein including the other relevant documents, a strong likelihood, the rehearing would arrive at the same decision as the one being reviewed.
 The foregoing excerpts, one from paragraph 17 of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions Vs President of The Industrial Court and Another Judgement (Supra) and that from Baxter’s Administrative Law Book at Page 540, have answered me, to the effect that the rules of natural justice are an end in themselves, with the merits counting for little in the case of a clear violation, like in the present matter at least on the case of the failure to observe the audi alteram partern principle.
 I perhaps need to repeat what I said at paragraphs 15-18 herein above to the effect that it may not necessarily be unequivocal what the decision on the complaint would be after a hearing conducted by an apparently independent and neutral status committee. This all the moreso considering that this is a matter of soccer which has a set of various rules and regulations whose enforcement is best left for the experts in the field.
 I also need to say something at this point on the challenge directed against the Status Committee of the Fifth Respondent as currently constituted. Whatever their intentions were when the committee unilaterally and mero mutu decided to embark on an investigation in a matter they were required to decide and further go on to utilize, whatever they had found without having had the applicant react thereto, against whom an adverse decision was to be taken, is in my considered view a very serious irregularity. It so serious that it goes, in my view, against the long term rule in matters challenging a failure to observe the principle, “ nemo judex in causa sua”, meaning that no one can be a judge in his own cause, often expressed in the words, “justice must not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.” The case of Sifiso Sibandze Vs The Prime Minister of Swaziland and Two Others (28/2017)  SZHC 3 (2018) is instructive on the significance of the nemo judex in causa sua principle on the overall principle of fair hearing.
 This judgement was of course underscoring what had been observed in the English case of R v Sussex Justices, Exparte Mccarthy  1 KB 256 or (1923) all E.R. Rep.233). The following excerpt from that judgement as referred to in the applicants’ heads of argument is instructive:-
“The question is not whether in this case the deputy clerk made any observation or offered any criticism which he might not properly have made or offered; the question is whether he was so related to the case in its civil aspect as to be unfit to act as clerk to the justices in the criminal matter. The answer to that question depends not upon what actually what was done but upon what might appear to be done. Nothing is to be done which creates even a suspicion that there has been an improper interference with the course of justice. Speaking for myself, I accept the statements contained in the justices’ affidavit, but they show very clearly that the deputy clerk was corrected with the case in a capacity which made it right that he should scrupulously abstain from referring to the matter in any way, although he retired with the justices; in other words his own position was such that he could not, if he had been required to do so, discharge the duties which his other position involved. His two fold position was a manifest contradiction.”
 This means that if I refer the matter back to the Player’s Status Committee of the Fifth Respondent, as I have just hinted above, the matter cannot be heard by the same committee that heard it initially and came up with the decision. I am avoiding making a finding whether or not they were biased but I do feel that in investigating a matter they were to make a decision in was an apparent conflict from which it is difficult for a party to feel that justice has been “ manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done.” I think this was the same consideration in the matter of Darren Christie Vs The Players’ Status Committee and 4 Others, High Court Case No.1447/2017. One would have expected the members of that committee to have learnt their lesson in that matter than for them to be held back by the same irregularity.
 Lastly, a lot was said about this court allegedly having or not having jurisdiction to hear this matter, it being a matter where in terms of the regulations applicable in the soccer fraternity, courts of law have to be avoided and or should be show in deciding matters therefrom. Owing to the manner in which the matter was approached, I did not get the sense that the parties considered this argument pivotal in the determination of the matter at hand. I can only mention in passing that I do not think that the purpose of whatever regulations of the Fifth Respondent or even the Federation of International Football Association were aimed at an injustice in excluding the courts of law. By this I mean that they could not and cannot in reality be used to say that even where a party approaches this court for a review of a decision based on an apparent irregularity without seeking to decide the merits, it can be said that the courts are excluded. That would certainly not be the intention of the statutes or rules or regulation of the soccer fraternity.
 I must further clarify myself that even though it would always be advisable the merits of soccer disputes to be left for the determination of the soccer structures, there should be no difficulty in an appropriate case for this court to decide the merits of the dispute where the facts are crisp and there is little dispute requiring the referral of the matter back. This would also be the case where the following excerpt from Herbstein and Van Winsen’s, The Civil Practice of The Supreme Court of South Africa, 4th Edition, Juta at Page 959, the position was put in this manner:-
“Although the court will, in the case of a successful review, generally refer the matter back to the particular body entrusted by the legislature with certain or special powers rather than make the decision itself, it will not do so when the end result is a foregone conclusion and a reference back will merely waste time, when the reference back would be an exercise in futility, or where there are cogent reasons why the court should exercise the its discretion in favour of the applicant and substitute its decision for that of the Respondent.”
 As I said in the present matter, I have tried to enumerate those instances which in my view made it appear like it could not be said that the matter is a foregone conclusion or even that there are cogent reasons to have it decided by this court in the sense of all the facts being on the papers. The point here is that a prima facie view of the merits of the matter appears to favours the Respondents even though the irregularities on the procedure were committed against the applicants. The Respondents have not filed a counter application so much so that it would be difficult for this court to despite finding that there were serious irregularities but the Respondent should still succeed. This is moreso because the Respondents have not made such an application.
 Consequently, and for the foregoing reasons I will make the following order:-
1. The decisions of the Respondents under both case no.1372/2019 be and are hereby reviewed, corrected and set aside.
2. The matters are reverted back to the First Respondent for reconsideration of issues resulting in the reviews forming the basis of this matter.
3. For purposes of reconsidering the matters, the First and Second Respondents be and are to be reconstituted with new members who qualify to hear and determine the disputes being appointed to do so as the current members are these particular respondents are barred from doing so.
4. Following what transpired in the papers and considering the entire circumstances of the matter, I will order that each party is to bear its own costs.
N. J. HLOPHE
JUDGE – HIGH COURT