Julius Malema is 'unshaken'
"Only criminals run away from the court"
ANC renegade Julius Malema was charged with money laundering today. Prosecutors in Polokwane allege Malema “improperly received” R4,2 million in a conspiracy involving government tenders.
Malema scoffed at the charges after being released on bail of R10,000.
“I'm unshaken... I'll continue with the struggle for economic freedom,” he told supporters, adding he would visit a platinum mine run by Impala on Thursday to press for a wage strike there.
Proclaiming his innocence, he told supporters outside court: "Comrades... we are happy our charges are here. We are prepared to answer any questions and every question... because we are not hiding anything".
"Only criminals run away from the court."
Malema said his supporters needed to make sure President Jacob Zuma was not re-elected at the ANC's national conference in Mangaung.
"We must make sure Jacob Zuma does not become president of the ANC.... Remove him as a president," Malema said.
"Zuma has 700 charges against him. I only have one."
He said Zuma had to be officially charged and arrested.
"We are not like the head of state who runs away and calls for 'umshini wami' [machine guns] to shoot the courts," Malema said. "We want a laptop and an iPad so that we can prepare our answers."
Malema thanked the crowd for its support and for a night vigil held for him last night.
He also thanked the African National Congress Youth League's leadership, in particular spokeswoman Magdalene Moonsamy, for continuing to fight for him.
He also thanked his family, and especially his grandmother, who he said continued to receive threats.
"She has always said to me... if you believe in it, continue to fight for it."
He thanked the ANC provincial leadership for supporting him against "politically motivated charges".
"All of you, your efforts are recognised," he said.
He also thanked his lawyer, who he said had represented him despite criticism from other white people.
"They want justice to be served. That is why they took a decision to represent me... and my team will be victorious."
Malema said all institutions of government were investigating him. "I am subjected to harassment... and the media are taking sides. We will never tolerate dictatorship."
For his 10-minute hearing, Malema ditched his trademark Che Guevara-style black beret and white t-shirt in favour of a grey suit and white shirt. He emerged from the court smiling and waving and shook hands with his chanting supporters.
Ousted as leader of the ANC Youth League in April for ill-discipline, Malema has returned from the political wilderness with a vengeance in the past several weeks, stepping up public criticism against Zuma and the ANC hierarchy.
He had been under investigation for months for suspected corruption, fraud and money laundering relating to government contracts his political allies secured in Limpopo — a province where the Treasury says hundreds of millions of dollars go missing each year due to suspected graft.
His penchant for luxury cars, flashy Swiss watches and champagne parties has also attracted the attention of South Africa’s Revenue Service, which said at the weekend he owed R16 million in unpaid taxes.
Malema’s backers say the charges are politically motivated.
“This case is an abuse of power by Zuma against Malema,” supporter Sonett Masemola told Reuters outside the court.
Luterdo Mothurwane, dressed in ANC Youth League garb, said of Malema: “He gets more support than President Zuma because he is more in touch with the people and more intelligent”.