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Malema fired up

ANC youth league president Julius Malema was in his element yesterday when he took the stand during his hate speech trial in the equality court in Johannesburg.

The young lion also kept multitudes glued to their TV screens on the e.tv news channel, which is broadcasting the trial live.

Malema told the court he had to be radical and militant in order to stay relevant in the youth body.

Responding to a question from AfriForum legal counsel Martin Brassey about his seemingly militant and radical nature when singing Dubul' ibhunu, Malema said that staying relevant in the ANC youth league demanded it.

"I belong to a very radical and militant youth organisation and if you are not radical and militant, you risk being irrelevant," he said.

Tensions between Malema and Brassey were heightened, with Judge Colin Lamont having to warn them that their exchange was "not fruitful".

Malema told Brassey that he would respond "politically" to his questions because his clients had brought a political matter to court.

The youth league president even took on Lamont, on the subject.

He said: "My Lord, the song (Dubul' ibhunu) is political.

"If they are allowed to bring a political matter to court, I think I should be allowed to give political responses."

Lamont had warned Malema against giving "political speeches" in the witness stand.

When tensions finally simmered down, Malema waxed lyrical about his days as a young recruit of the ANC.

He testified that at age 13 he attended the funeral of former South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani armed with a 9mm pistol he had been given by the ANC.

"We thought we would encounter the enemy and we were ready to exchange fire with them," Malema said.

He described the "young pioneers" group he was part of as highly disciplined, saying they marched through the "suburb of white people" but did nothing.

Malema said that, following the announcement of the death of Hani on April 10 1993, they were waiting for instructions from former president Nelson Mandela, allowing them to engage in fire.

"We were excited when Mandela said 'now is the time'."

Asked why he was excited, Malema said: "Because a command had been given."

But he told the court that he was disappointed when Mandela issued instructions to refrain from violence.

Malema also rejected Brassey's assertion that there were white Afrikaans-speaking South Africans who feared that Malema's supporters would act on the lyrics of the song Dubul' ibhunu.

He said: "I have always refused to look at things literally. I am a political activist and I give context to every word I sing or utter."

Malema said the youth league had asked AfriForum not to take their hate speech complaint to court but resolve the dispute amicably.

He indicated that the banning of the old South African flag was agreed to after a "gentleman's agreement".

In the morning, two ANC officials blocked the entrance to court 8A, demanding proof of identity and press cards from those who sought to enter.

One of the men, who declined to be identified, told Sowetan that "the court has been given to us".

However, a court official denied that the ANC officials had been allowed to control security.

What Malema told the court:

  • On Debora Patta: "She knows nothing about politics.
  • On Helen Zille: "I disagreed with her calling me a rabble-rouser."
  • On AfriForum: "You [AfriForum] came here for cameras."
  • On the song: "It's not Julius's song, I'm not Brenda Fassie. If Julius sings revolutionary songs, it's a headline, but when they sing Die Stem, it's not a headline. I want to sing with my people. I want to celebrate and commemorate without any restrictions.
  • On Peter Mokaba: "He was my mentor. I was not inspired by him, but by the ANC."
  • Him and politics: "There's never been anything in my life that has not been political ... even proposing to a girl."
  • Being political: "You brought this political matter to court, I will answer in a political way.
  • To AfriForum lawyer: "You have no mandate to speak on behalf of the people. I take offence." - Vusi Xaba