‘Malema could be jailed for 15 years’
Polokwane - Money-laundering accused Julius Malema could face a 15-year jail term if convicted.
“Money-laundering is not a frivolous charge, and it can incur a sentence of 15 years,” Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela said after Malema's appearance in the Polokwane Regional Court on Wednesday.
He said the charge - which relates to a R52 million tender awarded to On-Point engineers - should not be taken lightly.
Malema, listed as “accused 10” on the charge sheet, was earlier in the day officially charged in court for the schedule one offence.
His co-accused, Selbie Manthatha, was charged with corruption, which is a schedule five offence.
The two were released on bail of R10 000 each.
The expelled African national Congress Youth League leader later addressed hundreds of his supporters outside court.
He urged them not to re-elect Jacob Zuma as the ANC president at the party's elective conference in Manguang.
“Remove him as president.”
Malema said he was happy about the charge against him because he was innocent.
“...We are happy our charges are here. We are prepared to answer every question... We are not hiding anything,” Malema told the crowd.
Malema has repeatedly said government officials were trying to get rid of him or illegally arrest him.
In a statement, he re-iterated that government was trying to silence him.
He claimed the charges were politically motivated and he was being harassed.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the accusations were misleading and it undermined the rule of law and jurisprudence.
Earlier, pandemonium broke out inside the court when journalists were forcibly removed. One reporter was physically pulled off his seat and dragged out by two security guards.
Only those journalists whose court applications to record inside court were approved were allowed back inside the court room.
The SA National Editors Forum expressed concern over the incident and said legal action would be taken if reporters faced further exclusion from the courtroom or if force was used against them.
Malema's four business associates appeared in the town's magistrate's court on Tuesday.
They were granted bail of R40 000 for charges including fraud, corruption and money laundering.
On-Point allegedly secured the tender fraudulently, and Malema is accused of benefiting from it.
According to court papers, deposits were made into Malema's Ratanang Family Trust to fund a farm and make payments for a luxury car.
Roads surrounding the court were cordoned off since early morning and no violence was reported during the day. Barbed wire was also set up outside the court.
Police spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said the crowd was orderly and co-operated with police.
The crowd had dispersed by 1pm.
Malema and his co-accused will be back in court on November 30. - Sapa