Zuma is trying to torture me, says defiant Malema

Julius Malema was given R10 000 bail on money laundering charges on Wednesday. (David Harrison, M&G)

Julius Malema was given R10 000 bail on money laundering charges on Wednesday. (David Harrison, M&G)

Malema was set free on R10 000 bail in the Polokwane Regional Court on Wednesday on charges of money laundering, for allegedly "receiving proceeds from unlawful activities". His lawyers confirmed he was contacted about an arrest warrant issued against him on Friday afternoon.

Malema appeared with his business partner and co-accused Selbie Manthatha, who was given R40 000 bail.

His address to the crowd of just under 1 000 supporters was not Malema's best-ever speech, and had none of the fire and eloquence he's displayed in recent weeks at Marikana and Gold Fields when speaking to disgruntled mineworkers. But it served its purpose, showing him as unbowed and defiant, and surrounded by powerful political allies.

Malema said the state proved it doesn't have corruption or fraud cases against him, but was "sent by [President] Jacob Zuma" to find something."

"I said to police I have nothing to hide.
I am not involved in any criminal activities, I am not corrupt, not involved in any fraud ... Zuma told them in Zulu they 'must arrest him'," the expelled youth league leader said.

"When I came here was told was going to be charged with fraud, corruption, money laundering. Serious crimes ... I am here because some people have taken a decision to conspire against me ... when I came here I was told only one charge, money laundering. Not very serious charges."

Malema tore into Zuma and the organs of state he says the president is using to "torture" him, but didn't have criticism of the courts themselves, probably leaving him shy of a contempt-of-court charge that could get tricky for a man out on bail.

"They have brought me here for nothing. It is just a publicity stunt. Zuma had 700 charges against him, I have one charge against me," he told the rousing crowd.

But an appearance at the Impala Platinum mine near Rustenburg on Thursday, where he promised he would campaign, could be trickier still. Malema already faces charges of incitement, laid by trade union Solidarity. Going to the platinum belt, where the army is still technically deployed post-Marikana, could be a real test for the patience of police and prosecutors.

Spokesperson for the Hawks, McIntosh Polela, said the charge against Malema should not be taken lightly.

"Money-laundering is not a frivolous charge, and it can incur a sentence of 15 years."

He said there had been a lot of speculation in the media of more charges being brought against Malema, but this was not true.

Polela would not comment on the trial, and said he would prefer the case to be allowed to run its course. – Additional reporting by Sapa

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