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The fraud, racketeering and corruption trial of EFF boss Julius Malema and two alleged associates was not postponed or the charges against the accused separated. Taking the absence of one of the triallists on medical grounds, the judge opined that the case was taking too long (the accusations began in 2012) and that, perhaps, there should have been a separation. If the “depressed” accused emerges as fit to face a court this may yet happen – although Malema personally boasted outside the court that there had never been a case against him, and he was being hounded for political reasons that could leave him as a SA citizen with a cloud over his head. – Peter Wilhelm
(News24) – The state possibly shot itself in the foot by refusing to separate Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema’s trial from his co-accused. Addressing the media outside the High Court in Polokwane, where his trial had just been struck off the roll, Malema said the state should have granted him his request. “I gave the state a practical option, they did not use [it],” he said.
Malema, Kagisho Dichabe and Lesiba Gwangwa were scheduled to face a six-week trial as they had to answer to over 50 charges of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering.
The case first came up in 2012 but was postponed in September last year because Dichabe’s lawyer was not immediately available for trial. Eleven months later, and the case faced further delays after Dichabe failed to pitch up for the first day of his trial on Monday. A medical certificate handed to the court stated that Dichabe suffered from major depression.
Malema, through his lawyer, Mike Hellens, pleaded with the State to not postpone the matter but instead try him separately. The State refused to put through the application before the court.
Delivering a ruling on the matter, Judge Billy Mothle said it seemed all the parties, except Dichabe, were ready to proceed. He said the State should have agreed to separate the cases. “If the court had that power [to separate the cases], it would have used it,” he said. “I therefore rule that the case is struck off the roll.” Postponing the matter or continuing in the absence of Dichabe was not an option.
The State could however, still reinstate the charges against the three. Malema, however, said the state was never ready to proceed. “They did not have a case against me. They wanted a postponement … so that I become a citizen of SA with a permanent dark cloud over my head,” he added.
According to the charge sheet, Malema and his co-accused, On-Point Engineering directors Dichabe and Gwangwa, were facing charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money-laundering. The court papers stated that Malema allegedly had business ties with Gwangwa. Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust is an indirect shareholder in On-Point Engineering.
The State alleged that Malema and his co-accused misrepresented themselves to the Limpopo roads and transport department, leading to a R52m contract being awarded to On-Point Engineering. It was also alleged that Malema used some of the money to buy a farm and a Mercedes-Benz.
The case was dismissed without the three having formally pleaded. Malema however, had always publicly proclaimed his innocence.
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