Julius Malema graft trial postponed till next year

2014-09-30 11:03

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What was supposed to be the beginning of a corruption trial for Julius Malema was over in five minutes.

The Economic Freedom Fighters leader and his co-accused are facing charges of fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering in the Polokwane Magistrates’ Court.

Malema’s lawyer, Tumi Mokwena, said he was ready to proceed but a postponement was needed to accommodate other legal teams.

Judge Ephraim Makgoba gave into defence teams’ submissions and postponed the matter to August 3 2015.

Makgoba said it would be a marathon trial, which would run until it is finished.

Malema, who was smiling and laughing at the photographers as some tripped as they shoved to get a shot of him, left the court and walked to an area where his supporters were gathered.

A handful of enthusiastic Economic Freedom Fighters sang and chanted pro-Julius Malema songs and slogans ahead of the party leader’s arrival.

The group had spent last night in a vigil at Nirvana Hall in Polokwane and moved directly from the venue to a parking lot about 100m from the court where they were planning to gather throughout court proceedings.

They remained there amid tight security control including security points as well as barricaded streets around the Polokwane Magistrates’ Court precinct.

A police helicopter was earlier seen hovering above the area monitoring the throng of EFF supporters as they moved from the outskirts of the city to the court.

They were dancing, singing and chanting anti-Jacob Zuma songs and slogans. At some point they were chanting: “Pay back the money Zuma, pay back the money”. This was first chanted by EFF parliamentarians in the National Assembly in a bid to put pressure on President Jacob Zuma to respond to questions on the controversial Nkandla project.

Also in court were EFF MPs Floyd Shivambu, Mbuyiseni Ndlosi and Mpho Ramakatsa.

Earlier this morning Malema had arrived at court in a convoy of three Mercedes Benzes.

Wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie, he was surrounded by bodyguards. He walked through the court and was believed to have gone into a meeting with his legal team.

Malema’s co-accused and On-Point directors Kagisho Dichabe and Lesiba Gwangwa arrived in court ahead of him.

The charges faced by Malema and his co-accused were all related to road tenders which were allegedly awarded irregularly to On-Point. The EFF commander in chief was alleged to have benefited from the deal and used the money to buy a farm and a Mercedes Benz.

Malema said the charges were crafted against him by his political detractors. He said they were using courts to fight political battles.

A court date had originally been set from today to the end of October for plea and trial.

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