Malema scores a point with lower bail
THE National Prosecuting Authority lost its first battle yesterday on the first day of the Julius Malema money laundering trial when the Polokwane Regional Court dismissed their submission that Mr Malema be required to pay bail of R40,000.
Mr Malema was released on R10,000 bail despite the argument by state prosecutor Brian Moalusi that he should pay more. Mr Moalusi argued that Mr Malema was accused of money laundering involving millions of rands.
However, in the end it counted in Mr Malema’s favour that his co-accused — who were all granted R40,000 bail — had more charges against them including fraud and corruption. This was to become Mr Malema’s rallying point later when he addressed about 1,000 of his supporters outside the court.
Mr Malema’s attorney, Nicqui Galaktiou, said the amount of bail granted indicated that there was no need to arrest Mr Malema "in the first place".
Mr Malema said money laundering was not a "very serious charge". He boasted that he was not afraid of answering the charge against him before the courts.
He said President Jacob Zuma had never appeared before a court to answer to his corruption charges.
Mr Zuma’s case was dropped in 2009 by Mokotedi Mpshe, the acting national director of public prosecutions at the time, after the National Prosecuting Authority heard tape recording that seemed to point to a political conspiracy against Mr Zuma.
Mr Malema said the case against him was part of a political conspiracy led by Mr Zuma.
The Hawks’ investigation of Mr Malema started in August last year. That investigation was understood to relate to fraud, corruption and money laundering.
Mr Malema said after the court appearance that the absence of fraud and corruption charges against him personally in the charge sheet presented in court was an indication that his case was politically motivated.
The African National Congress (ANC) rejected links to Mr Zuma in Mr Malema’s trial, saying in a statement issued yesterday that the accusations were "misleading and seeking to undermine the rule of law and jurisprudence of the country".
Senior leaders of the ANC have preferred not to talk about Mr Malema since he was expelled from the party in April.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said those trying to implicate Mr Zuma in Mr Malema’s legal woes had a nefarious agenda.
"We want to state it categorically that the ANC, Zuma and its leadership have no role in the charges," Mr Mthembu said.
"It is evident that anybody (who) suggests the abuse of state powers is trying to water down the implications inherent in the charges and prejudging the case before it has even started," he said.
Mr Malema used the Marikana tragedy — in which 34 striking miners were shot by police at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg — to undermine Mr Zuma’s leadership.
This was part of the campaign to block Mr Zuma’s bid for a second term at the ANC’s national elective conference to be held in Mangaung in December.
Mr Malema said yesterday he would return to the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg today, where striking workers are demanding a minimum monthly wage of R12,500. "They will never stop us ," he said.
Ms Galaktiou said the defence was satisfied with the outcome of the day’s proceedings.
The defence expected to get a full docket before November 30.
Mr Malema walked into the court to cheers and renditions of cultural praise songs yesterday morning.
Soon after he settled down the crowded courtroom broke into "inzima le ndlela"— Zulu for "this is a tough road", generally known as a hymn but at times used as a liberation song.
The draft charge sheet lists 10 accused people and companies, and details a complex web of alleged corruption, fraud and money laundering. On Point Engineering, of which Mr Malema is an "indirect shareholder", is at the centre of the allegations.
On Point is one-third owned by Guilder Investments, which is in turn 50% owned by Mr Malema’s family trust, the Ratanang Trust.
The Polokwane Regional C ourt declined requests from the media to broadcast proceedings live.
Hundreds of people gathered outside court, adjacent to the police station where Mr Malema handed himself over yesterday morning. Several roads leading to the court had been blocked by law enforcement officers.
A barbed wire separated the police station, the court and Mr Malema’s supporters. Mr Malema was expected back in court on November 30.
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