Home News S.African court throws out Malema corruption case

S.African court throws out Malema corruption case

Published on 04/08/2015

A South African judge on Tuesday threw out a corruption case against firebrand politician Julius Malema after three years of delays, giving a major boost to President Jacob Zuma's fiercest critic.

Malema, who heads the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was accused of fraud, corruption and racketeering linked to a multi-million dollar government contract won six years ago when he headed the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The trial was set to start this week but hit a dead end Monday when one of Malema’s four co-accused was absent after being hospitalised.

It was the third delay since the group was charged three years ago.

In the Polokwane High Court on Tuesday, Judge Billy Mothle refused to postpone the case again, calling it “a delay too long for the accused”.

“The case is struck from the roll,” he told the accused. “You are now free to go.”

The decision provided Malema with a high-profile victory ahead of local elections in 2016, although Mothle warned him that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) may reinstate the charges in the future.

Speaking to the media outside the court where a large crowd of his supporters danced and sang in celebration, Malema said he was ready to fight on through the courts.

“If they want to bring it, let them bring it afresh — I am not scared of them,” he said.

– Parliamentary clashes –

NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku would not comment on whether the state would reinstate charges.

“As an institution we have always maintained that we are ready to prosecute,” he told AFP.

“It is not for us to express disappointment at today’s outcome, but what we are saying is that this is not an acquittal… No decision has been made on what comes next.”

Malema and four business associates were accused of lying to win a government construction contract worth 52 million rand ($4.1 million, 3.7 million euros) in his home province of Limpopo.

But the politician insisted the charges were simply “persecution” by his former allies in the ANC.

“I know because we are dealing with dogs they are going to manufacture something new,” Malema said outside court. “They are free to do that.”

Booted out of the ANC for sowing indiscipline three years ago, Malema went on to create the far-left EFF, which secured 25 parliamentary seats in the 2014 national elections, just months after its formation.

The EFF supports nationalisation of mines, and land redistribution without compensation.

Malema said he was anticipating a return to parliament this week, where his party has earned a reputation as rabble-rousers, frequently disrupting proceedings with chants demanding Zuma pay back money used to upgrade his private residence.

Malema is expected to return to the issue at presidential questions on Thursday.

Zuma has himself spent years shaking off corruption charges that he too claims are politically motivated.