Malema – the endgame?: Soldiers who listened to Malema freed

2012-09-22 18:01

Three soldiers involved in organising a meeting with former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and who claim to have been arrested on trumped-up charges were released on Monday without having faced a proper hearing.

One of the soldiers, Sipho Swelinkomo, said they were arrested last Friday night by military police wielding R4 rifles, two days after meeting Malema in Lenasia.

Swelinkomo, who is among the soldiers on special leave after storming the Union Buildings in an illegal protest march in 2009, said the charges were not clear, but he understood them to have included mutiny and  disobeying orders.

He believed the arrest was related to the meeting with Malema.

Swelinkomo and two others were held in custody over the weekend and released on Monday night after their case came before a military court.

It was postponed to October 26 for further investigation.

Defence ministry spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga said the soldiers had disregarded an order to go back to work.

They were on special leave while their 2009 case was heard in court, but after government decided not to pursue it further, an order was issued for these soldiers to come back.

This was around the end of August.

“They were not arrested because of the meeting with Malema, but they were part of a group ordered by the military to return to their bases. Not all of them have heeded that,” he said.

They were charged with disobeying this order, as well as for being absent without leave.

Some of the soldiers at Malema’s meeting told City Press they tried to return, but were told they couldn’t because their disciplinary cases still had to be wrapped up.

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