/ 26 July 2011

Hawks wrestle with Julius Malema’s trust issues

Hawks Wrestle With Julius Malema's Trust Issues

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks) have received a case docket against ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, spokesperson McIntosh Polela said on Tuesday.

“A case docket against Mr Malema has arrived at the Hawks offices from the Brooklyn police station,” he said.

Polela said the docket was handed to the head of the commercial crimes unit.

“That person is studying the case docket and we will make a decision on whether or not we will institute an investigation,” he said.

In the wake of the ANC Youth League’s defiant response to corruption allegations concerning Julius Malema’s “secret” trust fund, we speak to M&G politics reporter Matuma Letsoalo for insight into what this scandal means for the youth league president’s future.

AfriForum opened a corruption case against Malema at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria after it was reported in the City Press that he had a trust fund allegedly for deposits from business people.

The complaint was lodged according to the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004.

On Monday, the youth league responded to the allegations in the City Press, saying “the ANC Youth League president is open and ready for investigations by SARS [the South African Revenue Service] and any other law enforcement agencies”.

The league leadership said the trust was no secret, it was used for charitable purposes and was “tax compliant”.

The City Press report said Malema was the sole trustee of a secret family fund, the Ratanang Trust, which he allegedly used to bankroll his lavish lifestyle.

The paper reported Malema denied the trust was being used to launder illicit funds, but “declined to divulge its purpose or bank balance”.

The trust was registered at the Office of the Master of the High Court in Pretoria in 2008, weeks after Malema was first elected youth league president.

Citing two “independent, well-placed sources with knowledge of Malema’s financial dealings”, City Press reported the trust was being used by Malema and “his benefactors” to fund his lifestyle.

“Thousands of rands” were deposited into the account regularly, according to unnamed sources. “Frequent deposits are being made from different banks, especially in Limpopo.”

One source told the paper he had deposited R200 000 into the trust’s bank account after Malema facilitated a government tender for his benefit.

Malema’s 81-year-old grandmother, Sarah Malema, “is also a trustee of the Ratanang Family trust, after being added as a co-trustee in May last year, according to the trust deed.

On Saturday, Malema sought an urgent court interdict to stop City Press publishing the report on the trust, but this was dismissed by Judge Colin Lamont in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

Lamont ruled Malema was a public figure and that the story was in the public interest. Further, he found the evidence contained in the City Press story “credible”.

Writing on the blog Constitutionally Speaking, legal expert Professor Pierre de Vos said Malema could face up to 15 years in jail if convicted in terms of the Act, and have his assets confiscated.

De Vos wrote the Act criminalised almost “all imaginable forms of corruption in rather broad terms”. This made it easy, “in theory” to secure a successful prosecution in a corruption case. — Sapa