الأحد , يونيو 14 2020

Malema corruption case thrown out

South African opposition party Economic Freedom Fighter ( EFF) leader Julius Malema (C) addresses his supporters after his corruption trial was postponed on August 3, 2015 outside the High Court in Polokwane, South Africa

Mr Malema is a staunch critic of the government

A court in South Africa has thrown out fraud and corruption charges against left-wing opposition leader Julius Malema.

The case should be “struck off” because of lengthy delays in bringing him to trial, a judge ruled.

Mr Malema was charged in 2012 with money laundering, racketeering and corruption related to a government contract worth $4m (£2.5m).

He denied the charges, and said they were politically motivated.

Mr Malema formed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party in 2013 following his expulsion from the governing African National Congress (ANC).

He is a fierce critic of President Jacob Zuma, and has campaigned against corruption.


There was a heavy police presence outside court

Correspondents say the ruling is a big boost for Mr Malema’s career, and will fuel perceptions that he is the victim of an abuse of power.

Judge George Mothle said the case had dragged on for too long, and this was “prejudicial” to Mr Malema, South Africa’s News24 site reports.

“For now, the case is over, you are free to go,” the judge told Mr Malema.

However, he added, the defendant not been formally acquitted, so prosecutors could still charge him again.

Analysis by Pumza Fihlani, BBC News, Johannesburg

They may now be arch rivals but it seems Mr Malema has learned survival skills from President Zuma, his former ally.

Mr Malema has had a couple of brushes with the law, the first being a tax evasion case which was withdrawn, and now a corruption case which has been thrown out.

Like Mr Malema, the president had his share of legal problems before he took office – he was acquitted of rape and had corruption charges dropped. He emerged from the cases stronger, using them to cast himself as the victim of a conspiracy aimed at destroying his political career.

The controversial Mr Malema, who heads South Africa’s second-biggest opposition party, will now look to strengthen his position in a similar way. There is real skill to his game – he is not just a boisterous populist.


Mr Malema portrays himself as a revolutionary who is fighting for the poor

Addressing his cheering supporters outside court, Mr Malema said the prosecution had “messed up” its case.

“Let them manufacture any new charges against me. They will never win,” he said.

“It is going to keep happening; there will be attempts on our lives,” Mr Malema added.

The charges related to a government contract awarded to a company in which Mr Malema held a stake through his family trust.

The contract was for the construction of roads in Mr Malema’s home region of Limpopo, when he was still the head of the governing party’s youth wing.

He was accused of “improperly” receiving money for the contract.

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