Malema in court: Polokwane showdown on the cards

The Polokwane Regional Court looks set to become the stage for a media circus, as both supporters and opponents of expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema vowed to launch protests and counter-protests in the Limpopo town ahead of his court appearance this week.

Malema has been accused of fraud, corruption and money laundering and on Friday his lawyer confirmed an arrest warrant was issued. His lawyer, Nicque Galaktiou, told the M&G on Monday she would file a bail application when Malema appeared in court on Wednesday.

Last week, members of the youth league told the M&G that Malema had "lots of support from youth".

"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 one youth league leader who asked not to be named.

Close Malema ally and expelled ANC Youth League secretary general Sindiso Magaqa has questioned the timing of the arrest, which came weeks after Malema began a public relations offensive, making a series of speeches before disgruntled miners and soldiers, and criticising President Jacob Zuma.

At the weekend, Malema's arch-rival Boy Mamabolo told the Sunday Independent he was organising a march outside court when Malema appears, while the youth league’s provincial secretary, Jacob Lebogo, encouraged supporters to assemble in Polokwane from Tuesday night. Friends of the Youth League spokesperson Mandla Seopela said there would be a vigil for Malema in Polokwane the night before his court appearance.

Malema's allies and detractors could be in for a lengthy stay. An ANC leader, who has a legal background, told the paper the case could take years to conclude.

"We are going to see the same situation as with Zuma, with things like applications and counter-applications and internal orders being submitted, which will legthen the case. By the end of 2013 I’m convinced this will come to nothing," he said.

Triple threat, and then some
Malema faces a triple-threat of investigations; including a damning report by public protector Thuli Madonsela; a multimillion-rand tax bill; and a Hawks investigation into corruption and money laundering.

In addition, the M&G last week revealed how two of Malema’s close associates benefited from multi-million rand contracts from the University of Limpopo.

On Monday, the University of Limpopo rejected the claims that it has been involved in tender irregularities. University spokesperson Kgalema Mohuba told the New Age the university was not shaken by the report.

"We are very shocked that the M&G decided to omit some of the information we have given to them, because they wanted to tell the story as they understand it," he said.

Mohuba confirmed the university had awarded the R27.8-million construction tender to a company owned by Malema's former driver Collin Foroma last year but said: "Friends of the Youth League is not a company, so there is no way that we can award them tenders."

Five Limpopo departments were put under the administration of national government last year and in May this year, and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told Parliament 38 suspicious transactions in the province had been handed over for criminal investigation.

On-Point in the spotlight
City Press reported on Sunday the public protector's provisional report into the R52-million tender, awarded to On-Point Engineering by the Limpopo roads and transport department, shows Malema's Ratanang Family Trust benefitted "improperly" from the contract and that legal action should be taken to recover the money Malema received.

The paper said Madonsela found the contract was awarded to On-Point based on "deliberate misrepresentations and non-compliance with procurement prescripts".

The public protector recommended the tender be cancelled immediately; that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Asset Forfeiture Unit urgently consider criminal action; and that the master of the high court investigate the flow of money into the trust.

Pay the taxman
According to the Sunday Times, Malema is accused of owing millions to the taxman, along with five individuals and four companies. The paper named his co-accused as:

  • Lesiba Gwangwa, Malema's business partner;
  • On-Point Engineering, of which Gwangwa is a director and in which Malema's family trust is a shareholder;
  • Selby Manthata, a business partner of Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale;
  • Gwama Properties, which Malema and Gwangwa have used to buy properties in the past;
  • Segwalo Consulting; and
  • Oceansite Trading

But the Star on Monday reported 12 people would join Malema in the dock come Wednesday.

The paper said in light of the Public Protector’s report, there was also a possibility Malema's cousin Tshepo Malema and his business ally Steve Bosch, will also be charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering.

The report showed both men benefited from the disputed tenders awarded to On-Point Engineering.

Meanwhile, Sars officials confirmed Malema owes the taxman R16-million, including outstanding tax, penalties and interest. If Malema fails to pay his debt to Sars, a sheriff of the court will attach his assets. This includes his home in Polokwane, a farm in nearby Palmietfontein, and a home in Sandown, which is currently under construction.

Last Monday, Galaktiou wrote to the NPA and the Hawks saying they were aware of a "political plan to have him arrested and incarcerated within days", and the charges would be motivated by an "ulterior motive to silence him as a political opponent to other politicians and to interfere with or limit his constitutional rights, including his right of freedom of speech".

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