Malema’s courtroom damp squib

2012-09-29 20:02

The terse message posted at the entrance of the Polokwane Magistrates’ Court warned staff members that they were not required to report for work that day – and with good reason.

Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s court appearance could probably be best described as a series of rolling catastrophes building up to a damp squib.

At least three spats broke out between frantic journalists and photographers as they piled onto the single bench and the space in front of it, which was reserved for media.

Then – in a move reminiscent of a high school disciplinarian – a court official ordered all journalists out of the courtroom.

Only those with permission slips for filming could be allowed back in, the official announced.

This perversion of the constitutional principle that courts are public fora was seized upon gleefully by Polokwane’s finest.

The police, some of them in full riot gear, wasted no time in starting to drag and push reporters bodily from the courtroom.

The police’s strong-armed rush to remove journalists was greeted with a great deal of amusement by Malema’s assembled supporters.

Shortly afterwards, a TV journalist, who was being pushed into the back of a mob of reporters by shove-happy cops, collapsed in a faint.

When another reporter informed police about his fallen colleague’s medical condition, the reply was: “So what?”

Journalists who had no intention of filming the proceedings were now safely locked out of court.

The big moment had arrived: the man of the hour ascended from the court’s subterranean holding cells.

Dressed in a dark suit and a red tie, Malema grinned broadly at his supporters as he arrived in the courtroom.

The chaotic build-up resulted in a run-of-the-mill bail application that lasted exactly 49 minutes.

The only thing that was contested was the bail amount, with both sides submitting exactly one sentence as legal argument.

The appearance was interrupted only by a five-minute adjournment for Malema’s lawyer, Andre Bezuidenhout, to confer with his client.

As one member of the public asked on Twitter: “Is that it?”


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