Zindzi Mandela 'confirmed Malema could enter Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's gravesite', court told

28 October 2020 - 18:27
By nomahlubi sonjica AND Nomahlubi Sonjica
Julius Malema and EFF supporters at the Randburg magistrate's court.
Image: Nomahlubi Jordaan Julius Malema and EFF supporters at the Randburg magistrate's court.
The Randburg magistrate's court was on Wednesday told that the late Zindzi Mandela had confirmed that EFF leader Julius Malema was part of a convoy allowed entry to her late mother Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's gravesite.
According to advocate Laurence Hodes, counsel for Malema and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Zindzi had written a statement in which she said Malema had been given permission to go to the cemetery.

Malema and Ndlozi are standing trial for common assault. They are accused of assaulting Lt-Col Johannes Jacobus Venter in 2018 at the funeral of struggle stalwart Madikizela-Mandela in Fourways. They are both out on warning.

AfriForum had pushed for their prosecution.

Venter earlier told the court that Malema and Ndlozi were not part of a convoy that was allowed into the cemetery where Madikizela-Mandela was laid to rest.

He said at the time he was responsible for protecting the president, former presidents and ministers who were the only people allowed at Madikizela-Mandela's burial site.

The rest, he said, were told would remain at the stadium where funeral proceedings would be streamed via satellite TV.

During cross-examination, however, Hodes told Venter that “the late Zindzi Mandela had confirmed that Malema's vehicle was part of the convoy”.

Hodes said Malema and Ndlozi had made representations when they wanted to settle the matter out of court and that a copy of Zindzi's statement was attached to the representations.

Venter said he was not aware of Zindzi’s statement.

Prosecutor Michelle Hart objected to the statement being used in court as she said it was not made under oath. The court allowed the statement to be submitted as evidence.

In the statement read out to the court, Zindzi said Malema had been raised by Madikizela-Mandela and that she regarded him as her son.

“If Mr Malema was part of the family, he would have been with them in their vehicles,” Venter said when asked to comment on the statement.

Julius Malema and EFF supporters at the Randburg magistrate's court.
Image: Nomahlubi Jordaan Julius Malema and EFF supporters at the Randburg magistrate's court.

Hodes put it to Venter that the vehicle Malema and Ndlozi were travelling in was accredited to enter the cemetery. He pressed Venter on why he had earlier told the court that Malema and Ndlozi had accreditation tags around their necks but his statement did not mention this.

Venter agreed that he left the information out, but that he did so because he was in shock.

Hodes told him he was not in shock as video footage showed him smiling. Venter said the smile was a reaction he displayed when he was in shock.

When Hodes asked Venter if there had been a list of people who were allowed to enter the cemetery, the police officer said the police were given only a verbal briefing.

Venter confirmed that there was no documentation received that included registration numbers of vehicles that were accredited to enter the cemetery. There was also no list of people or heads of states that were to be allowed in the cemetery.

The court heard that Venter also did not mention in his statement that Malema said he would not walk to the venue but would drive in. He brought this up only during evidence in chief.

“You are making things up as you go along to help your case,” Hodes said to him.

Venter insisted, however, that he told Malema that he would get permission from the venue operation centre.

Hodes asked if he did not think to apologise to Malema and Ndlozi when he learnt that they had permission to enter the cemetery.

“There is no need for me to apologise because I was discharging my duties,” Venter replied. “The vehicle was not part of the convoy. It was stopped. There was no visible permit. Even if there was, I would have still stopped it,” Venter said.

Hodes grilled Venter on why he said in his statement that he was certain that Malema’s vehicle did not have a permit to enter court, yet he told the court that he did not see any.

“You state under oath that the vehicle did not have a permit. You are lying. You said you confirm with certainty that there was no identifying mark.

“Do you accept that if we show the court that there was the permit in that vehicle in that day, that you lied?” charged Hodes.

“I didn't see the permit,” Venter said.

“A picture tells a story of a thousand words,” Hodes said.

The court also heard during cross-examination that Venter did not produce medical records for injuries he sustained when he was pushed. He also did not obtain a J88 form from the police station for a doctor to record his injuries.

Ndlozi and Malema pleaded not guilty to the charge of assault. They said the charge was part of a political agenda.

The trial continues on Thursday.