Julius Malema: I won’t become my family’s first criminal

2013-11-18 14:44

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No one in his family had been to prison for committing a crime and he was determined not to become its “first criminal”, Julius Malema told his supporters after a brief court appearance in Polokwane.

A confident-looking Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader emerged from his court appearance today, telling his supporters he would not go to prison.

He said he was accused of something he had nothing to do with and said it was for this reason his lawyers had asked the state to withdraw charges against him.

Malema will know his fate next week Thursday after the state has considered his lawyers’ representations on why he should be allowed to walk.

If not, Malema will be back in the Polokwane High Court for a month from September 30 2014 to October 31 2014 for purposes of pleading and trial.

He was, however, adamant that the state had no case against him in the absence of evidence implicating him in the alleged crime.

The EFF leader told a sea of his supporters who had waited outside court that his money laundering and racketeering case would not stand in court.

Malema has allegedly benefited from a R52 million Limpopo roads project deal, which was irregularly awarded to On-Point Engineers, a company owned by his friend and now co-accused, Lesiba Gwangwa. It is further alleged that he used money paid by some of the companies that were awarded work by On-Point to purchase a car and his farm, which was recently auctioned off by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to recover taxes due.

Malema appeared undeterred in court, walking in first, ahead of his co-accused, Kagisho Dichabe and Lesiba Gwangwa. He went straight to greet court orderlies before taking his place in the dock.

National spokesperson for the EFF Mbuyiseni Ndlosi said charges against Malema were “not serious”, hence he had managed to write an exam with Unisa before his court appearance. Asked by journalists how it went, Malema said it was “good”.

Malema later told about 3 000 of his supporters and EFF members that he was innocent. He thanked them for their support and assured them that he did not commit any crime.

“I will never betray you. I did not steal from you. I will never steal from you. I will never steal from the poor … I fight for the poor. I will never turn my back against people who don’t have houses,” he said.

“I will never steal from the homeless and domestic workers. I come before you accused of stealing something that I don’t know of.”

Malema said there was no history of criminals in his family. “No one in my family has been to prison for committing a crime and I'm not going to be the black sheep of my family. I am not going to undermine the image of my family and become the first criminal,” he said.

He also said his charges were politically motivated. “They’re accusing me of stealing from the poor because they are failing to match my thinking capacity. They have no ideas. They’re fighting political battles in court and arresting me with the hope that they will suppress the struggle for economic emancipation,” Malema said to cheers from the crowd.

He said his hands were clean, particularly because he had never worked in the department of transport in Limpopo, which owned the multimillion-rand project.

“I never held a position in government and had no power to give administrators instructions. Their forensic investigation on whether I used my political influence to influence the direction of tenders says there is no evidence pointing to Malema and yet they proceeded to arrest me,” Malema said.

“Those who control accounts and who got the tender are free today, yet those who have nothing to do with the department are accused. I have said to the state: ‘Why do you charge me for things I don’t know [when based on your] evidence there is nothing that implicates me?’

“They thought arresting me will silence me. They thought I will go to them begging and ask for forgiveness. I have gone to the state and asked them to drop charges.”

Malema said his trial was a chance for the National Prosecuting Authority to prove their independence and “take a decision in the interest of the law”, adding that the “court must not be used to settle political scores”.

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