The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Thursday clarified the charges against Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, and the discharge of charges against his alleged business associates.
"It is correct that at some point they were all charged together, but the NPA re-evaluated evidence and we decided that it was going to be misjoined to have all these people charged together," said NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube.
"The accused who were discharged from the charges yesterday [Wednesday] faced corruption charges. Malema and another two face racketeering and 52 other counts, including fraud. So we separated the trials."
The Star reported on Thursday that corruption charges against Malema's business associates – Selbie Manthatha, his wife Helen Moreroa and his brother Makgetsi Manthatha – were dismissed by the Mokopane Regional Court on Wednesday.
"The court dismissed the case on the basis that the evidence presented by the state could not sustain the charges," defence lawyer Isaac Raphele, for the accused, was quoted as saying. "Therefore there was nothing for the accused to answer to."
Discharged, not dismissed
Mncube said this statement was wrong, as the charges were not dismissed but discharged.
"It is not an acquittal or a dismissal of charges. It was a discharge of charges. Discharge means that they cannot be recharged again. If it was a withdrawal, dismissal or acquittal of charges, they can be charged again."
The two brothers and Moreroa were initially charged with Malema, On-Point director Lesiba Gwangwa and Kagisho Dichabe in September 2012.
They were accused of misrepresenting themselves to the Limpopo roads and transport department, leading to a R52-million contract being awarded to On-Point Engineering.
It was alleged in court papers that Malema had business ties with Gwangwa, and that Malema's Ratanang Family Trust was an indirect shareholder in On-Point. The state alleged that Malema substantially benefited from the tender payment to On-Point, using it to buy a farm and a Mercedes-Benz.
Mncube said the charges against Malema, Gwangwa and Dichabe remained and they were due to appear in court in September.
Malema told the newspaper the charges against him should be dropped in light of the Wednesday's court ruling. – Sapa