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S.Africa’s ANC concludes Malema’s appeal hearing

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress on Tuesday finished hearing the appeal by Julius Malema and other youth leaders seeking to overturn their suspension from the party, officials said.

“Having heard both sides, the National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal will be making its decision in due course,” committee chairman Cyril Ramaphosa said in a short statement.

The two-day proceedings were kept under tight wraps, with the panel meeting until nearly midnight on Monday and then for most of the day Tuesday.

Ramaphosa did not mention when the committee would hand down its decision.

Malema’s lawyers had argued that he and his five co-accused were not allowed to seek mitigation of their sentence, and said that some disciplinary committee members should have recused themselves from the process, Talk Radio 702 reported.

In November Malema was found guilty of sowing divisions within the ANC, misconduct and bringing the party into disrepute, following weeks of hearings that were marred by violent protests.

This time few protesters were seen outside the ANC headquarters in central Johannesburg. The ANC’s refusal to comment on the proceedings also helped keep the story off the front pages Tuesday.

The appeal committee includes senior party leaders such as Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel — none of whom have commented on the case.

Malema, 30, would like to see his five-year suspension from the party overturned. If the appeals committee upholds his sentence, Malema will be too old to return to youth politics when his suspension period expires.

But he remains in his position until he has exhausted his appeals, which he could take up to the ANC leadership conference in December, where President Jacob Zuma will seek another term as the party boss — something Malema fiercely opposes.