Malema pleads innocent, released on R10,000 bail

Julius Malema was released on R10,000 bail after pleading innocent during a brief appearance in front of the Polokwane Magistrates Court on charges of money laundering yesterday.

The expelled ANC Youth League president is accused of making nearly R4 million from corrupt activities through his business ties with On-Point Engineers director Lesiba Gwangwa.

It was alleged that On-Point was fraudulently awarded a R53m tender by the Limpopo department of roads and transport, and that R43m of this had been paid by the department.

According to the charge sheet, Malema substantially benefited from the tender payment, using it to fund a farm worth R3.9m and to pay R382,655 for a Mercedez-Benz Viano.

Charges of corruption were brought against On-Point, Gwama Properties, Segwalo Engineering, and Oceanside Trading.

On Tuesday, four people, including Malema’s business associate Lesiba Gwangwa, appeared in court and were granted bail of R40,000 each.

They are accused of fraud, corruption and money-laundering relating to the tender.

Malema and his co-accused are scheduled to appear in court again on November 30.

In a statement made shortly after his court appearance,  Malema said he had instructed his legal representatives to plead with the Court to immediately proceed with the case, as he believed he deserved an opportunity to present his side of the story and clear his name.

“For a considerable amount of time, the South African law enforcement agencies and media have been spreading rumours of my arrest therefore creating a dark cloud of suspicion of a possibility of illegality on my part. It can never be correct with an arrest warrant issued by the State, the prosecution can now ask for postponement for more than 60 days, delaying justice and denying me an opportunity to present my side of the story,” he said.

“In a fair and just process, it can never be correct to delay justice and create a dark cloud over my head on an allegation that I am involved in illegal activities,” he said.

Malema said, unlike others, he was not involved, and would never be involved, in activities that seek to delay the Court proceedings.He also accused the state of rushing the charges against him.

“It is very strange that some political leaders who are compromised and insisted that my arrest be expedited are the ones who should respond to more than 700 charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering with an almost 100% chance of conviction because the Corruptor has already been convicted and sentenced to a prison term,” he said, in a clearly veiled reference to president Jacob Zuma and Schabir Shaik.

“The rule of law should never be undermined because people have political offices and power. All South Africans, including Jacob Zuma should be equal before the law,” he said.

Malema said he was aware that senior government officials, including at National cabinet level “have agitated law enforcement authorities to expedite my arrest and detain me as a means of trying to silence and disrupt the political activities I am involved in as a revolutionary activist and Economic Freedom Fighter.”

Malema said they would be visiting mineworkers in the North West to pledge solidarity to workers who were protesting for better wages and salaries today.