South Africa’s specialised crime-fighting unit, the Hawks, are set to investigate criminal charges against Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said on Tuesday.
Briefing journalists in Parliament, along with police top brass, Nhleko said Malema’s comment on Al Jazeera at the weekend that the South African government would be removed by the “barrel of a gun” by the opposition once its patience had run out was “reckless”, “inflammatory”, and had the potential of “plunging the country into chaos”.
“The matter is now being investigated by the Hawks,” he said.
The charges against Malema were laid at the Hillbrow police station by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
“A due process of investigation is to follow,” Nhleko said.
“We need to show responsibility and we need to refrain from using genuine grievances that are afflicting various communties to drive narrow political agendas that have potential to destabalise the country.”
This is not the first time Malema’s words have sparked controversy – the politician has been found guilty in court of hate speech at least twice.
In the first incident, Malema was on record as saying that President Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser had a “nice time” with him because in the morning she had “requested breakfast and taxi money”. Sexual violence NGOs brought a case against Malema for his words, and he was convicted of hate speech by the Equality Court in March 2010. He was ordered to ordered to apologise unconditionally and fined R50 000.
In that same month, Malema sang “shoot the Boer” (Dubul’ ibhunu) at a unvirsity campus rally. This was followed by a series of complaints against Malema, as well as a statement released by the ANC, which said: “We wouldn’t appreciate any statements against any member of our society, including whites… they are also South Africans”, however, it “had not taken a decision in the matter”.
Less than two weeks after Malema’s hate speech conviction in the matter regarding Zuma’s rape accuser, the then South Gauteng High Court ruled on 26 March 2010 that the song as “unconstitutional and unlawful”, and that any person singing it could face charges of incitement to murder, stating that the song called for the killing of the “farmer/white man”. This was followed by a court interdict preventing Malema from singing any song that could be considered as “instigating violence, distrust and/or hatred between black and white citizens in the Republic of South Africa” until the matter could be finalised by the Equality Court
In April 2011 Afriforum brought a case of hate speech against Malema with regards to Dubul’ ibhunu, and in September of that year he was convicted of hate speech for the second time. – Additional reporting by African News Agency (ANA)
Note: The headline of this story was changed from ‘Hawks investigate after Malema puts his foot in his mouth (again)’ to ‘Hawks to investigate Malema for Al Jazeera comments’.