AfriForum to prosecute Julius Malema if the NPA does not do so

AfriForum's private prosecution head Gerrie Nel (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP)

AfriForum's private prosecution head Gerrie Nel (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP)

Afrikaner interest group AfriForum has announced that it will privately prosecute Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema for his alleged involvement in a suspected botched tender award in Limpopo if the National Prosecuting Authority does not do so.

AfriForum made the announcement of its intent to prosecute Malema at a press briefing in Centurion, Gauteng, on Thursday.

“We are planning to prosecute Mr Julius Malema on charges of corruption and fraud,” said Kallie Kriel, AfriForum chief executive.

The charges stem from a case involving an engineering company, On-Point Engineering, which was awarded a tender by the Limpopo roads and transport department valued at R52-million. The state accused On-Point of misrepresenting itself to acquire the contract. The case was struck off the roll in 2015.

Gerrie Nel, Afriforum’s private prosecutions head, said that the organisation had written to the NPA to ask when it would make a decision on the case. 

“On March 19, we submitted the written enquiry to establish if and when the NPA intended to re-enroll the matter,” Nel said on Thursday.

Torie Pretorius, head of the PCLU, responded to Afriforum’s enquiry saying that the NPA would respond in August 2018 if they intended to continue with the prosecution, said Nel.

“We will allow Mr Pretorius to make his decision … if not, we will certainly prosecute this matter privately,” Nel said. 

In court papers at the time, it was alleged that Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust was an indirect shareholder in On-Point.
He was accused by the state of personally benefiting from the tender to On-Point, using the money to allegedly buy a Mercedes Benz and a farm.

The EFF leader denied the allegations, saying they were politically motivated.

AfriForum also plans to prosecute Malema’s co-accused, Kagiso Dichabe and Lesiba Gwangwa. The case was struck off the roll in 2015.

The Citizen newspaper reported at the time that, after numerous postponements of the case, presiding judge George Motlhe said further postponements would be unfair on Malema and his co-accused.  

AfriForum and the EFF have had tensions this year, with the organisation accusing the red berets of hate speech and inciting violence.

The On-Point case

In 2011, Kriel opened a case against Malema and his co-accused. At the time, an indictment was drawn up that consisted of two charges of racketeering, five charges of corruption, four charges of fraud and 40 counts of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

After Dichabe was found too sick to stand trial, Nel said that it was still expected that the NPA would monitor the case and enrol it once Dichabe returned to good health.

After a “superficial search”, Nel said that AfriForum found images of Dichabe on social media attending gatherings and “participating in cycling events”.

Nel said that Dichabe’s current Twitter profile image is of him and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

According to Nel, AfriForum realised that the matter had been taken away from the assigned prosecutor in the Special Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU) and transferred to the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU) in the NPA.

Pretorius allegedly told Nel that Shaun Abrahams, as National Director of Public Prosecutions, moved the case to the PCLU because it involved elements of both commercial and organised crime.

“We found these reasons very peculiar,” Nel said.

Nel said that it is not within the PCLU’s mandate to deal with commercial and organised crime, and that the senior prosecutor who had been in charge of the case had already interviewed witnesses and made progress at the time it was transferred.

AfriForum will now wait until August for Pretorius to make the NPA’s decision known.

“If somebody portrays themselves as somebody fighting for the poor, if such a person, like Mr Malema, goes ahead and steals state money or tax money, the money that should benefit the poor, we believe such a person should be held accountable,” Kriel said.

UPDATE:

Malema responded to AfriForum’s plans to prosecute him on Twitter by calling on the group to “bring it on”.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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