A handful of ANC Youth League supporters marched outside Luthuli House, as Julius Malema's appeal against his suspension from the ANC started.
About a hundred people demonstrated outside Luthuli House in Johannesburg on Monday but the protest was unrelated to ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s disciplinary hearing.
Johannesburg metro police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the protesters were Congolese nationals. They were showing support for their countrymen appearing in court on public violence charges related to a protest staged last week.
Malema’s disciplinary hearing started at Luthuli House on Monday. A handful of his supporters stood outside the ANC’s head office.
Several police vehicles blocked off parts of Sauer and President streets around the building in anticipation of a greater turnout.
Prisoner rights activist Golden Miles Bhudu stood on a nearby wall, holding up a placard in support of Malema.
“Cde Cyril [Ramaphosa] do the right thing. There is no case here, only shackles,” it read.
Ramaphosa, in his capacity as ANC appeals committee chairperson, will hear oral arguments at Malema’s hearing. Supporters were unsure if the hearing had begun but SABC radio news reported by 11am that it was underway.
“I have been here since six this morning. And I will wait here until we are told what is happening inside,” Bhudu said.
The 49-year-old activist said he supported the youth league because it was raising issues that “elderly” ANC members had not spoken out on.
“The youth need wisdom from people like us. They have raised very crucial and sensitive issues like land reform and economic freedom… Issues that the elders should have raised.”
At noon on Monday a police convoy escorted several vehicles out of the building. Officials nearby refused to confirm whether Malema was one of the passengers.
ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said on Monday that party members were instructed not to comment on the hearing.
“The media have been kept out, and we don’t know anything about it. The media might receive information once the hearing is completed.”
Youth league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu refused to comment.
“Don’t trouble me with this. I will not say anything about the hearing.”
Malema’s lawyers submitted heads of argument to the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of appeals last week.
Advocate Patrick Mtshaulana said these detailed why Malema’s five-year suspension should be overturned. Malema and other senior youth league leaders were suspended in November last year after being found guilty of sowing division within the ANC and of bringing the party into disrepute. This was due to, among other things, comments about bringing about regime change in Botswana.
Heads of argument were also filed for league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer general Pule Mabe, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa and deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi.
Mtshaulana said they would try to convince Ramaphosa that they were not given a chance to argue in mitigation of their sentences.
They would also argue that disciplinary committee members, including chairperson Derek Hanekom and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, should have recused themselves from the disciplinary committee which dealt with the matter.
This was because they had previously publicly disagreed with the youth league’s positions on land reform and the nationalisation of mines. They would further submit that the verdict and sanctions relied on an outdated section of the league constitution.—Sapa