'No fool can tell me which lawyer must represent me': Malema on criticism of using white lawyers

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EFF leader Julius Malema and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi appear at the Randburg Magistrate's Court.
EFF leader Julius Malema and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi appear at the Randburg Magistrate's Court.
@EFFSouthAfrica, Twitter
  • Julius Malema says he has been using Ian Levitt Attorneys for many years.
  • The EFF leader says they know which lawyer to use and where to use them. 
  • His lawyer, Laurence Hodes, grilled the State's witness during cross-examination in the assault trial on Wednesday and Thursday. 

"No fool can tell me which lawyer must represent me." 

These were the words from EFF leader Julius Malema outside the Randburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday as he charged back at criticism on social media that their legal representatives are white. 

Malema is on trial with MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi for allegedly assaulting a police officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Johannes Jacobus Venter, at Fourways Memorial Cemetery during the funeral proceedings of struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on 14 April 2018. 

Venter, who is attached to the Presidential Protection Services, testified in court that Malema had refused to walk into the cemetery after he had stopped his vehicle at the entrance.

He told the court that Malema said "no white man will stop me" as he tried explaining they were welcome to walk in the cemetery but their vehicle was not allowed in.

Some of the criticism aimed at Malema was that he was seemingly an advocate of black liberation but he himself used white lawyers. 

Replying to the criticism, he said: "It is true, we are represented by white lawyers. They will represent us today, tomorrow and anytime we want.

"No one chooses lawyers for us. We choose our own lawyers and we know which one is best, where. When we go to this battle we take this one and when we go to that battle, we take this one [sic]."

Malema told scores of EFF members, who had gathered outside the court from early morning Wednesday and Thursday, the party was not anti-white but against "white racists". 

He added they wanted patriotic white South Africans who loved the country, the Constitution and were willing to share the wealth and land. 

ALSO READ | Malema, Ndlozi assault trial: 'You had no right to refuse them entrance,' lawyer tells cop

"Laurence Hodes has been with me from long time ago. He didn't start to represent me now. He has represented me before and he will represent me anytime I want him to represent me. 

"No fool can tell me which lawyer must represent me," Malema said. 

Hodes, instructed by Ian Levitt Attorneys, has grilled Malema and Ndlozi's accuser for two days in court.

Venter testified Malema's vehicle did not have a permit to enter the cemetery's entrance and it was not part of the official convoy which included the Mandela family, Presidency entourage, head of states, and ministers. 

Proceedings took a turn on Thursday when Hodes focused on video footage that was longer than the one the police officer had used during his evidence. 

Using the footage, Hodes put it to Venter his version that Malema was not driving with the convoy and that the vehicle had no visible permit was not true.

The lawyer put it to him he had a motive for barring the duo from entering. 

In one scene of the almost five-minute footage, Hodes pointed to an item appearing from the dashboard, which he said was a permit. 

But Venter told him the item looked like a reflection.

After initially saying he could not tell whether it is was a permit from the screening, Venter later conceded it might have been a permit. 

The lawyer put it to the police officer he had lied in his evidence-in-chief, accusing him of misleading the court.

Hodes said: "I'm going to ask the court to draw an adverse inference against you for having shifted your evidence like that. I am going to ask the court to find that you're making up your evidence as you go along because your version has changed to such a long extent."

Malema's lawyers have charged the case was politically motivated by AfriForum which is representing Venter. 

During the trial, Venter was quizzed on whether he was aware of what the interests of AfriForum were and who it represented.

He said the organisation, of which he is a member of, represented anyone, regardless of race or colour.

The trial will continue on 9, 10 and 11 March 2021 and the State is expected to bring in more witnesses.

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