/ 21 September 2012

Lawyer confirms Malema will appear in court

Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.
Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

"We were notified today [Friday] that a warrant of arrest was issued for Mr Malema," she told Sapa.

"We don't know which court and when it will happen, but we are engaging with authorities on that. It will be in Polokwane."

She said Malema had not been arrested. "No, he hasn't. My understanding is that he won't be arrested." She said the charges against her client were unknown. "We do not know what the charges are and we don't have a copy of the warrant."

The City Press reported earlier that Malema faced charges of money laundering, corruption and fraud relating to his Ratanang Family Trust and its share holding in On-Point Engineering, a company that allegedly made millions from Limpopo government tenders.

Earlier, authorities would not comment on the matter or confirm the warrant of arrest. On Tuesday, Malema told reporters in Johannesburg if he was arrested, it would be done illegally. "If we are illegally arrested tomorrow, we would have been arrested by [President] Jacob Zuma," Malema said at the time.

He said he was willing and ready to go to jail, and was not intimidated. "I have nothing to hide … I only have my convictions. Nothing will stop me from fighting for economic freedom, not even my death … We are unshaken."

Malema said he had it "on good authority" that there were instructions "to get rid of some us …"

At the time, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said: "The presidency is aware that this person is prone to making wildly unsubstantiated and unwarranted claims and statements, and we do not wish to dignify them." The Hawks could not be reached but spokesperson Macintosh Polela told the New Age on Thursday that "whether or not Mr Malema faces arrest, he will be the first person to hear from us. It would be grossly unfair for us to communicate with him through the media."

Sars said it could not comment publicly on the affairs of any taxpayer, regardless of whether it is a business, a trust, a trader, or an individual taxpayer. 

"Taxpayer confidentiality is an obligation imposed on Sars by the Income Tax Act, among other pieces of legislation … Taxpayer confidentiality extends to whether or not a taxpayer is under investigation. Taxpayer confidentiality ends only when a matter is formally brought before a court of law, other than a tax court. It then becomes a matter for public record," it said.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke told the M&G that, as a general rule, the NPA would only able to confirm and comment on an arrest warrant when an individual is arrested, or hands themselves over and is due to appear in court.

It appears that the arrest is unconnected to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's investigation into a contract awarded to On Point Engineering by the Limpopo provincial department of roads and transport. Oupa Segalwe, spokesperson for the public protector, said the matter had not yet been concluded and that the public protector had not requested a warrant for Malema's arrest.

Political ploy
Malema has previously stated the threat of arrest is a political ploy by those who are not happy with the role he played in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre

"They have our address. They have the contacts of our lawyers. There is no need to dramatise the action. They will have to call me, I will go.  There is no need for drama. I am a well-known individual. I won't run away. The truth will prevail at the end," he said earlier this month.

Early September, the Mail & Guardian learnt that the long-running Hawks investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption by Malema was nearing completion.

A senior government official and a law enforcement official who had been briefed on the case then told the M&G the elite police unit was "ready to charge" Malema; and that warrants have been issued for the controversial former ANC Youth League leader's arrest. "It will happen before long – at least in the coming weeks," one of the sources, who requested anonymity, told the M&G.

This week Malema's allies, including both those suspended from the youth league earlier this year and those currently in the league, warned that the country's youth would rebel and unleash mass action if the expelled former youth league president is arrested.

Support for Malema
"Julius has lots of support from youth who don't rely on patronage from the ANC. They are not MECs, mayor or ministers. The youth are angry and they will go out in numbers. Young people will lead the mass action and they have lots of energy. And young people will not be peaceful …" said a member of the league’s national executive committee.

The president of the Congress of the People Youth Movement, Ncaba Bhanga, has also promised that the organisation would defend Malema if he was arrested.

"This is not about Malema," said Bhanga. "It is about the ruling party using state resources to suppress dissenting views [in the build-up to] its Mangaung conference. Malema has done nothing wrong."

Family trust a tender issue
In November last year, the Mail & Guardian’s investigative unit AmaBhungane reported that investigations into Malema's financial affairs by the Hawks, the public protector and Sars were believed to be in progress.

Media reports at the time alleged that businessmen had deposited money in Malema's family trust bank account, known as Ratanang Family Trust, allegedly in return for tenders.

That month, the public protector announced she asked the Limpopo provincial government to suspend multimillion-rand contracts with On-Point Engineering, a company part-owned by Malema's family trust.

In April, the City Press reported that Malema owed Sars R10-million and the Sunday Independent reported that several of Malema’s allies had been subpoenaed to appear before a secret judicial inquiry for suspected tax evasion. – Sapa