Assault case: Malema was like Mama Winnie's 'son' - court hears statement from late Zindzi Mandela

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The late Zindzi Mandela.
The late Zindzi Mandela.
PHOTO: File, Getty Images
  • The late Zindzi Mandela had made a plea that EFF leader Julius Malema and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi not be prosecuted.
  • She had outlined in a statement that her mother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, regarded Malema as her son.
  • The police officer, who accused the duo of assault, said he was not aware that Malema was speaking at the funeral.

The late South African ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, had pleaded with the State not to prosecute EFF leader Julius Malema and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi for assault, the Randburg Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday.

The statement, submitted by the late daughter of struggle icons Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was read out in the court during the assault trial of Malema and Ndlozi.

The document had formed part of representations made by the EFF leaders when a decision was to be taken on whether the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) would prosecute or not.

Malema and Ndlozi are on trial for allegedly assaulting Lieutenant-Colonel Johannes Jacobus Venter at Fourways Memorial Cemetery on 14 April 2018, during the burial of Madikizela-Mandela.

Defence lawyer, advocate Laurence Hodes, read the statement to Venter during cross-examination.

In the statement, Mandela says she was made aware that officials on duty during the funeral had attempted to bar Malema from entering the premises, although her mother had raised him and regarded him as her "own biological son".

She wrote: 

This is a fact that is, or should have been known to any person who regards themselves as South African. In any event, any security brief preceding the funeral ought to have identified the most obvious members of the Mandela family, including our extended.

Hodes said that, from reading parts of the statement from the late ambassador, Malema was regarded as a member of the family.

'Unthinkable' to prevent a son from burying his mother

Mandela also outlined it was not a coincidence that Malema was a speaker at the funeral and that, despite political resistance, the Mandela family insisted he was part of the programme.

A programme of proceedings was submitted to the court and Venter said he was seeing it for the first time.

He also said he was unaware that Malema had been a speaker at the funeral service in Orlando Stadium and only knew after watching in the media.

He also had no comment on Mandela's statement, saying it was the first he was seeing and hearing of it.

Venter added: 

If he was part of the family, he would have driven with the family inside their vehicle. If he did not travel with them in their vehicle, but with his own vehicle, he would have been with them.

Zindzi also wrote in the statement: "To prevent Mr Malema from entering the cemetery would have created the most serious violation of the specific wishes of the Mandela family. To prevent a son from burying his own mother in the name of the law, is an unthinkable act…"

The late ambassador pleaded that Malema not be prosecuted because the turn of events was under special circumstances. She said it was understandable that those close to her mother would have not been themselves at the time.

Venter said Malema was not being barred from entering, but his vehicle was.

Not 'ubuntu'

"I, myself, would have reacted far worse if any person had prevented me from paying my last respects to my deceased parent."

Hodes continued reading: 

The purpose of this statement is to express, in the strongest possible terms, that Mr Julius Malema cannot be justified, prosecuted for that which we would all have done, if not worse, under the same circumstances.

Mandela also mentioned that not allowing the EFF leader under such circumstances would not have been "ubuntu".

The statement was submitted as an exhibit to the court.

Malema and Ndlozi have pleaded not guilty.

Hodes told the court the basis of their plea was that the accused believed they were entitled to enter the burial site, and that being obstructed was illegal and unjustified.

They believe there is a political agenda to their prosecution.

Venter's cross-examination continues on Thursday.

Two other witnesses are also expected to testify.

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