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S.African police probe youth leader for graft

Published on 21/08/2011

South Africa's elite police wing on Sunday said controversial youth leader Julius Malema, who is under fire from the ruling party, is being investigated for fraud and corruption.

“We took a decision two weeks ago and then as soon we took a decision we began with the investigation,” said the police’s Hawks unit spokesman McIntosh Polela.

Malema was charged by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) Friday for bringing the party into disrepute and sowing internal divisions after his youth league called for regime change in neighbouring Botswana.

The firebrand, who is no stranger to controversy, risks suspension if found guilty as he was ruled at fault on similar charges last year.

Sunday media focused on Malema’s woes with City Press pointing to “Malema’s Triple Blow” referring to the ANC charges it said may lead to his expulsion, a Public Protector probe into his dealings, and the Hawks investigation.

Media have in recent weeks splashed details of a trust fund set up by Malema allegedly to stash kickbacks for oiling tender deals, with the police probe requested by a lobby group focused on white Afrikaner issues.

The Sunday Times urged the ANC “to go all the way” in its disciplinary case against Malema, whom the paper said had also made “bombastic” calls for mines nationalisation and “outrageous racist statements”.

“This is a fight to the death,” the paper’s editorial warned.

Malema would emerge stronger if he survived and would fight to unseat the ANC’s leadership next year leading to further uncertainty over South Africa’s direction, it said.

“The consequences for South Africa of Malema’s attack on the fabric of society have already been severe. Let’s hope this action is not too little, too late.”

The ANC fined Malema 10,000 rands ($1,400, 970 euros) last year and ordered him to take anger management classes and to apologise to Zuma for saying that he was worse than his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.

He has also drawn anger for singing a racially charged song about killing white farmers, and calling a BBC journalist a “bastard” and chasing him from a press conference.