Respected author, poet and peace activist Don Mattera has defended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema's right to express his views freely.
"Malema is a free moral agent who must never be stopped from expressing his views," Matera said in an interview with Sowetan on Friday.
"Once we do that we are shutting down the voice of the youth."
He said the latest attack on Malema would lead most youths to think that society does not appreciate their expressing how they feel.
"These youngsters, including Malema, would conclude that we do not want them to speak and they will resort to taking action. And this young boy's wrong action could spark a civil war.
"We must differ with him but we should not use him as a battering ram; we must not use him as a bulldozer in the struggle for power.
"There must never come a time when we do not allow our youth to express their youth. People who try to suppress him through criticism are igniting a bomb. I disagree with him sometimes but I will defend his right to speak," said Mattera.
He said other young people in politics before Malema made worse mistakes but they were never exposed to such harsh criticism, except by people opposed to the struggle.
He said young people were pushed to the front during the dark days of the struggle but now that there was freedom adults wanted to limit their role.
"Didn't we take them out of the school, and put them in the frontline of the struggle?"