South Africa's ANC hears closing arguments in Malema case

6th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's ruling African National Congress heard closing arguments Sunday in its disciplinary hearing against the party's firebrand youth wing leader, Julius Malema.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu confirmed that the final stage of the hearing had gone ahead Sunday after being postponed twice but said he could not give details.

The ANC has kept a tight lid on the politically sensitive hearings against Malema, a controversial 30-year-old who faces charges of "sowing divisions" in the ruling party and bringing it into disrepute.

Local media reports said closing arguments had still not ended by Sunday evening, even though the chair of the disciplinary committee, Derek Hanekom, had earlier estimated the process would last just a few hours.

"Final arguments get presented by both sides, that is by the representatives of the charged member, in this case Julius Malema, and from the side of what we call the chief national presenter, who presents the case on behalf of the ANC," Hanekom told AFP.

"We'll find as members either guilty or not guilty, and we'll have to decide what the appropriate penalty is."

Malema, who was found guilty of criticising President Jacob Zuma in another ANC disciplinary hearing last year, faces possible expulsion from the party if found guilty again.

Five other top ANC youth league officials are also charged in the hearings, widely seen as a tug-of-war for influence over the ANC ahead of party elections next year.

The first day of the hearings in August saw hundreds of Malema supporters clash with police outside the ANC's headquarters in downtown Johannesburg, burning pictures of Zuma and hurling rocks at police and journalists.

Malema has become one of South Africa's most controversial figures since being elected president of the youth league in 2008.

With his calls to seize white-owned land and nationalise the country's mines, he is a galvanising figure for millions of black youths.

But his radical rhetoric has made him a thorn in the side of senior ANC figures, including Zuma.

© 2011 AFP

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