Punches are being thrown at all politicians in a "boxing match" ahead of the May 7 general election, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said on Thursday.
"We are in a boxing match. There are going to be punches thrown at all of us," he told the South African Press Association in response to an open letter by Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie.
"I shouldn't be bothered by this. As we come closer to election day it will get worse."
Malema declined to comment on the contents of the letter.
"I have nothing to say … I don't think the matter deserves my attention."
McKenzie wrote a scathing letter to Malema on Wednesday, describing him as the "biggest thief" he had ever met.
"You get two kinds of politicians in this country: the ones who come from prison and those who must still go to prison. You belong to the latter," McKenzie wrote.
"I may be an ex-thief, but you are a present-day thief. You, particularly you, cannot be calling all white people in this country thieves."
Bankrupt the country
He claimed Malema's intention was to bankrupt the country.
"You are like a man who steals a cellphone and then goes back to his victim to ask for airtime … You bankrupted the ANC Youth League [ANCYL]. You bankrupted Limpopo. You bankrupted yourself. Now you want to bankrupt what's left of South Africa."
McKenzie went further to say Malema was a "false prophet".
"You are the modern-day Nongqawuse," he wrote. "There was no one there in 1856 to warn our people against that false prophet. Somebody needs to have the courage to warn us against you."
Nongqawuse was a teenage girl who had a prophecy that the Xhosa in the Eastern Cape should slaughter their cattle, many of which were sick, and not cultivate crops, because the oppressive British settlers were going to be swept into the sea and their ancestors would rise bringing new healthy cattle and crops.
The prophecy did not come true, leading to extreme hardship in the area.
McKenzie wrote: "I'm not scared of you. But I am scared of what will happen to this country if our young people don't realise what you are before it is too late."
Malema, a former ANCYL leader, was expelled from the ruling party in 2012 for sowing divisions and bringing the party into disrepute. He then started the EFF.
Fraud and corruption charges
He faces fraud and corruption charges related to a R52-million contract awarded to On-Point Engineering. The state alleged that Malema substantially benefited from the tender payment to On-Point, using it to buy a farm and a Mercedes-Benz.
It said Malema's Ratanang Family Trust was an indirect shareholder in On-Point. His case is due to be heard in September in the high court in Polokwane.
In March, the Star reported that charges against four of his alleged business associates had been dismissed. Malema had made representation to the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) to have the charges against him dropped. The NDPP had yet to make a decision.
Malema is also trying to settle his tax bill with the South African Revenue Service to avoid being barred from Parliament.
On February 10, Malema was provisionally sequestrated by the High Court in Pretoria. Malema and anyone else who did not want the order to be made final had until 10am on May 26 to give reasons as to why this should not happen.
On Thursday, the Star reported that Malema was disappointed by the letter.
"As African brothers, we must stand by each other, despite differences. But if, after writing the letter, he is going to find comfort, we wish him luck," Malema was quoted as saying.
"He is plagiarising what the media says without verifying. Good luck to him." – Sapa