Malema stands behind convicted murderer

The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) beleaguered first election process is in the spotlight again, after the party’s North West conference elected two convicted murderers to its executive.

Keobakile “Papiki” Babuile was in jail last weekend when the party’s North West delegates elected him in absentia as secretary of the province. He was sentenced earlier that week to 12 years in jail for murder and conspiracy to murder, after an intense two-month trial.

He was convicted along with five others for killing the ANC’s then regional secretary in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda region, David Chika.

The party’s leadership, however, has insisted that nothing is amiss as Babuile is appealing his conviction. Until that process was exhausted, he was free to be a leader in the organisation, EFF leader Julius Malema told the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday.

“If he is denied, the organisation will relieve him; we won’t even have to ask,” said Malema.

Complicated history
Babuile’s case lays bare the EFF’s complicated history. He was chair of the ANC youth league in the province at the time of the murder, just two days before the start of the ANC’s elective conference began in Mangaung 2012.

It was a tense time politically that divided the ANC, with many in the youth league, like Babuile, pushing aggressively to displace President Jacob Zuma. Their failure led to their ousting from the organisation and the rest is EFF history.

Babuile, a close ally of Malema, was appointed to lead the budding party in the province ahead of the national May poll before internal party elections could be held. He then went on to represent the party in the provincial legislature, where it did so well it became the official opposition, and finally was elected as party secretary on Saturday.

But the murder of Chika, in his house in Alabama, Klerksdorp, has caught up with him.

Babuile was not at the scene of the crime, according to court papers, and has provided an alibi to that effect. He was denied leave to appeal his guilty verdict, but is appealing that decision and hoping to be granted bail so he can take up his new position in the party. His appeal takes issue with various aspects of the court case, particularly the reliance on a single witness, Cynthia Thlako. The appeal maintains that Thlako’s evidence was problematic, noting certain inconsistencies, particularly around the meeting where the murder was allegedly planned.

Flawed judgment
Malema believes that the judgment was flawed – and that there is a second agenda at play. The accused have repeatedly claimed they were being persecuted for political reasons, a spectre Malema has raised in his own legal battles.

“We cannot sit back when we see an injustice meted against one of our own. There is something going on and we can see it. We are going to help him fight it,” Malema said.

The M&G has previously reported that a mysterious anonymous benefactor funded ousted Gauteng leader Lufuno Gogoro’s court challenge, which will seek to interdict the party’s national conference. And there was a definite alacrity about a number of legal challenges facing Malema once he was ousted from the ruling ANC. But the EFF itself may be guilty of an agenda against its own members who fall out of favour. The party’s first democratic internal elections have been plagued by complaints, chief of which is Gogoro’s, who appears to have been kept out of the Gauteng provincial conference for campaigning on media and social media, according to party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi but later denied by Malema.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Nathi Mncube said the organisation could only comment “if and when they [Babuile’s lawyers] file”.

It also emerged this week that another member of the North West executive, William Lesole Malefo, was among those convicted for killing Chika.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Verashni Pillay
Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.

Related stories

Two MECs fail to understand their harmful blunders

The Western Cape’s Debbie Schäfer missed the point about racism and the North West’s Mmaphefo Matsemela undermined the dignity of a young man

Editorial: Desperately seeking an opposition

All the contenders are deeply flawed, losing support, or both

‘Let ANC deal with its leaders facing corruption charges,’ Ramaphosa tells parliament

The president was answering questions before parliament, where he also told the EFF to allow the courts to decide on the matter of the CR17 bank statements

Mabuza asked to account for why ministers were seated next to Malema in Senekal

MPs can’t seem to stop the house from degenerating into screaming matches, even during virtual sittings, as exhibited when the deputy president answered questions in the NCOP on Wednesday.

Does the Expropriation Bill muddy the land question even further?

Land ownership and its equitable distribution has floundered. Changes to a section of the constitution and the expropriation act are now before parliament, but do they offer any solution?

EFF eyes municipalities ahead of 2021 local government elections

EFF leader Julius Malema says the party is preparing to govern in many municipalities from next year. It is also launching a programme to defend the rights of farm workers

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

See people as individual humans, not as a race

We need to ingrain values of equality in education, businesses, society broadly and religious groups to see people

JJ Rawlings left an indelible mark on Ghana’s history

The air force pilot and former president used extreme measures, including a coup, enforced ‘discipline’ through executions, ‘disappearances’ and floggings, but reintroduced democracy

Sudan’s government gambles over fuel-subsidy cuts — and people pay...

Economists question the manner in which the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…