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“The sitting will also receive arguments for aggravating circumstances from the ANC as per the decision of the NDCA [national disciplinary committee of appeals]... the ANC’s aggravating argument will also be allocated two hours in total,” NDC chairman Derek Hanekom said in a statement.
Arguments in mitigation for ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, his spokesman Floyd Shivambu and the league’s secretary general Sindiso Magaqa started at 8am on Monday.
On Sunday, during a closed session of the ANCYL’s lekgotla, Malema told delegates he had received a letter from the committee only on Saturday informing him, Shivambu and Magaqa, that they had to be at the mitigation proceedings.
Hanekom denied this, saying the NDC and the youth league had met on Wednesday, February 8, in a pre-hearing conference and agreed on the date for the mitigation and aggravating arguments.
“Secondly, we want to place on record that formal letters were sent to each individual on Thursday, February 9 to confirm the sitting,” Hanekom said.
Hanekom said the NDC wanted to correct “misleading” statements that the ANCYL leaders were charged for their calling for the nationalisation of mines, expropriation of land and “economic freedom”.
“At not stage were these issues a factor in the current cases. Any argument suggesting that the hearings at any stage had anything to do with these issues is devoid of any truth.”
Last Saturday, the ANC’s appeals committee announced that attempts by Malema, Shivambu, Magaqa and three other ANCYL officials to have the guilty verdicts against them overturned were dismissed. They were found guilty in November last year of bringing the ANC into disrepute and of sowing division in the party. This was after they made comments about regime change in Botswana, undermined Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba’s authority, insulted a journalist, and compared President Jacob Zuma unfavourably with his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.