Wico Swanepoel, a lawyer at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, laid a charge of assault against Julius Malema, leader of the EFF, and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, EFF MP, at the Randburg police station on 9 December 2020. This follows Malema and Ndlozi threatening Swanepoel with physical violence in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on 29 October 2020. The incident took place at the hearing of these EFF leaders on charges of assaulting a police officer. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit has a watching brief on behalf of the complainant and therefore attended the hearing.
After a tea break on said day, Malema and Ndlozi snapped at Swanepoel for being in the way because his legs were partly in front of the dock that they wanted to enter. According to Swanepoel, he immediately sat upright upon realising that the accused wanted to pass. Malema and Ndlozi continued to snap at Swanepoel, however, claiming that they couldn’t pass and that Swanepoel was being disruptive. Malema also said: “We cannot tolerate disruption.”
According to Swanepoel, Ndlozi then pointed the finger at him and said: “We will push you”. Swanepoel then asked Ndlozi if he was threatening him, after which Ndlozi repeated his statement. Ndlozi also called Swanepoel a liar during the incident, after which Malema, Ndlozi and a bodyguard of Malema encircled Swanepoel and continued shouting that he should be evicted from court. A police officer supported Swanepoel and helped him to move away from the EFF members. According to Swanepoel, he believed that an attack on his person was imminent because Malema and Ndlozi had actually been in court on charges of assault, which had taken place in front of senior police officers and had been caught on CCTV.
In South African law, the threat of violence to a person’s body is considered assault if the threatened person believes that the person threatening them is intent on and has the power to execute the threat.
According to Natasha Venter, Advisor for Private Prosecution at AfriForum, Malema and Ndlozi’s behaviour is disgraceful. “The two accused – both political leaders who should set an example to their followers – are already in the dock for assault. Nonetheless, it seems that they are once again guilty of the same crime. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit is ready to prosecute Malema and Ndlozi ourselves, as we cannot let unlawful behaviour such as theirs go unpunished.”