Julius Malema walks free in Polokwane

Julius Malema(ANA) – The corruption trial of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and his co-accused was struck off the roll in the Polokwane High Court on Tuesday. Judge George Motlhe indicated that the trial was taking too long, which prejudiced the accused who were in court and were ready to proceed.

The judge said: “The matter is struck off the roll; what this means is that you are free to go … but because you have not pleaded yet, the State may or may not, at a later stage institute the charges. The bail money will be refunded to the accused.”

Malema, Lesiba Gwangwa and Kagiso Dichabe faced more than 50 charges of corruption and racketeering. Dichabe was absent from the court, which heard on Tuesday that he was suffering from depression, and applied to have the matter postponed. Malema asked that he be tried separately following Dichabe’s absence – “to prevent the delay of justice”.

The militant EFF leader has claimed that the charges against him were politically motivated. On Monday, he told his supporters outside court that he was ready to have his day in court. He later tweeted: “Thank u South Africa and the rest of the African continent, we are not oblivious of challenges ahead but we shall overcome.”

He had earlier told supporters outside the court that “was ready” to “have his day in court”.

Whether this will occur is open to speculation. The decision to strike the case off the role will be fraught with issues relating to the smooth functioning of the judiciary – such as whether Malema’s political posturing conceals real political power of the kind critics of Jacob Zuma believe the President capable of wielding.