Malema wants DA to retract and apologise for incitement allegations

Andisiwe Makinana Political correspondent
EFF leader Julius Malema's lawyers have written to the DA demanding that party leader John Steenhuisen retract allegations that Malema incited the recent violence.. File photo.
EFF leader Julius Malema's lawyers have written to the DA demanding that party leader John Steenhuisen retract allegations that Malema incited the recent violence.. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

EFF leader Julius Malema wants the DA to retract and apologise for allegations it made that he incited violence last week, and is threatening to sue the party and its leader John Steenhuisen for R1m.

Malema’s lawyers have written to the DA demanding that Steenhuisen retract allegations that Malema incited the violence. They also want the party to publicly apologise and withdraw the criminal charges laid against the firebrand leader within five days.

The lawyers said the allegations are vexatious, misplaced, spurious and untrue and were made to exact political revenge on Malema and his reputation, and indirectly on the EFF.

In a letter dated July 17, Ian Levitt Attorneys said Malema never supported any criminal act, including the looting, and that the DA singled out a tweet, omitting a series of other tweets which give context to what Malema was saying.

They want the DA to withdraw its complaint and apologise because Malema did not incite anyone, including EFF members, to take part in any criminal acts. 

The message is clear: the writer laments the heavy-handedness of the military and expresses his preference that the army should not be deployed.
Ian Levitt Attorneys for Julius Malema

“In fact, our client has cautioned the law enforcement agencies to act lawfully when exercising their duties on the ground, to stop the looting from taking place and to act with restraint, to minimise the violence and prevent further violence from taking place.

“The tweet you have referred to does not incite violence.”

In response to reports last Monday that the state was planning to deploy the army to quell looting and violence, Malema tweeted: “No soldiers on our streets! Otherwise, we are joining. All fighters must be ready. They won’t kill us all.”

His other tweets on the same day read: “Some of you are even calling for a state of emergency. Be careful what you’re asking for ... In honour of Collins Khosa and all citizens who were harassed during level 5, say ‘#NoToSoldiers’ and ‘war declared on civilians’.”

The EFF later issued a press statement condemning the deployment of the military and calling for political intervention in widespread uprisings, destruction and looting.

In their letter to the DA, Malema’s lawyers said he was entitled to oppose the deployment of the defence force by all peaceful and non-violent means which are protected in the constitution.

“Our client is also legally entitled to call for the removal of the soldiers from their current deployment in exercise of his freedom of speech which is protected by the constitution.”

They reminded the DA of the killing of Alexandra resident Khosa, allegedly at the hands of soldiers, saying this was the context in which Malema referred to the killing of civilians by the defence force.

“Moreover in this regard, we note your omission of the full context of the tweet. What you do not make reference to are the phrases ‘We need a political solution to a political problem’ and ‘#NoToSoldiers’ contained in that tweet.

“These phrases are clearly the primary message intended,” the lawyers said.

They claimed the DA had conveniently omitted the other tweets sent by Malema on the same day. They said his tweet about Khosa formed part of the general message ‘#NoToSoldiers’, a tag appearing in both tweets.

“The message is clear: the writer laments the heavy-handedness of the military and expresses his preference that the army should not be deployed.”

Malema’s lawyers also charged that media articles attributed to Steenhuisen about the matter have been defamatory, especially where Steenhuisen is reported to have stated the EFF leader:

  • incited the violence;
  • voiced support for looters;
  • failed to show leadership during the violence and looting;
  • was encouraging or fanning the flames of violence when the country started to see loss of life; or
  • was highly irresponsible to behave as he did on social media and should be held accountable.

They said Steenhuisen’s statements were deliberately meant to impugn Malema’s integrity and good name or implied alternatively that Malema was a bad and irresponsible leader, was responsible for the looting and was a criminal.

Malema’s lawyers want the DA to issue the public apology as a press statement in the name of the party, and share the public statement on all its social media accounts and to all media houses with which Steenhuisen conducted interviews.

The EFF would also distribute the public statement via its communications department to media houses, they said.

The DA announced last week that it had laid incitement charges against Malema and three of former president Jacob Zuma’s children.

On Monday Steenhuisen told TimesLIVE he was in KwaZulu-Natal and had not received a letter. He maintained, however, that Malema’s tweets spoke for themselves “and we will allow the investigating authorities to determine the matter”.

TimesLIVE

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