Malema not acquitted; testifies in assault trial

The assault trial of EFF leader Julius Malema and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, in which the civil rights organisation AfriForum has a watching brief, resumed in the Randburg Magistrate’s court today. Malema and Ndlozi stand accused on charges of assault on a SAPS colonel, which took place after Malema’s vehicle was denied entry to Winnie Mandela’s funeral in 2018. The defence’s application in terms of Article 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, for the accused to be acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence at the close of the state’s case, was rejected by the court. In its ruling the court found that the video footage provide prima facie proof of assault. After this, Malema was called to testify by the defence. He testified that his actions on the day were reasonably justifiable due to the unique circumstances of the incident and that the only crime he had committed was “trying to bury [his] mother.” The trial will continue in July.

The matter was delayed from the outset due to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)’s hesitance to prosecute. This hesitancy motivated AfriForum to submit a mandamus application to compel the NPA to make a decision on whether it was going to prosecute the involved individuals. Only after this did the NPA announce that it was going to prosecute. The trial was then further postponed due to concerns relating to health risks for the accused during the Covid-19 pandemic. When the trial eventually recommenced in 2022, the state’s final witness repeatedly could not testify after submitting medical certificates and the charge sheet went missing only to be later found again. The EFF also held political rallies on the court premises throughout the court proceedings.

In addition to the assault charges, AfriForum’s involvement resulted in Julius Malema standing trial in a further two cases this year. AfriForum filed a complaint at the high court after EFF supporters were heard chanting “Kill the Boer, Kill the Farmer” in 2020 outside of the magistrate’s court where the accused in the murder of farm manager Brendin Horner appeared. Malema was added to the case as he had been present on the day and was previously convicted for hate speech for the singing of the chant Dubul’ibhunu (Shoot the Boer). In this ruling, the court ordered that Malema should discourage his supporters from singing the chant and similar chants. AfriForum, also filed charges against Julius Malema for the alleged possession of an unlicensed firearm, possession of illegal cartridges and firing of a firearm in a built-up area without taking the necessary precautions in 2018. This case is ongoing in the East London district court.

“We welcome the court not granting the defence’s article 174 application to acquit the accused in this case pertaining to the very serious charges of assault on a SAPS colonel. However, we simultaneously express our concerns about the peculiar events that have plagued this trial. We hope to see justice served in this case at the end of the day. We also remain resolute to fight for justice in the other cases against Malema to contribute to a society free of hate, racism and political impunity,” says Reiner Duvenage, Campaign Officer for strategy and content at AfriForum.

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