ANC Youth League president Julius Malema feels that his human rights has been infringed by leaks from the Hawks about his reported imminent arrest, echoing similar complaints by President Jacob Zuma about the Scorpions a few years ago. CARIEN DU PLESSIS reports.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is set to get even busier. That is if ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s promise – or threat – to approach Madonsela as well as the South African Human Rights Commission is more than an idle one.
If Malema goes through with the complaints, he would join the opposition parties and interest groups concerned about “minority rights” who regularly complain to these institutions about Malema himself, or alleged maladministration in government.
Malema told the SABC in an interview on Tuesday he felt that his human rights were being undermined by media leaks from the Hawks. This comes after the Sunday Independent reported that he faced imminent arrest and that the investigative unit had allegedly uncovered “prima facie” evidence of wrongdoing relating to the awarding of tenders to companies with close ties with Malema in Limpopo.
According to the reports, Malema is to answer allegations of fraud, corruption and money laundering before a court of law, but he’s indicated that he was willing to cooperate.
The Hawks did not confirm these reports, saying they don’t talk about ongoing investigations, and spokesman McIntosh Polela on Tuesday night said they didn’t want to be drawn into the leaks issue either.
“There can’t be leakages in an institution like the Hawks. It means people working there are not loyal to the internal processes,” Malema said. “The Hawks themselves have to be concerned why such an individual behaves that way. They must investigate themselves because that individual undermines investigations and the integrity of the institution itself.”
Of course Malema cannot be 100% sure that these leaks came from within the Hawks, as the story only quoted “sources close to the investigation”. That’s very broad.
So, if he does go ahead and complain, he’d probably have to prove this first, and apart from asking the journalists at the newspaper nicely, or, alternatively, tapping their phones, it would be near impossible to find the sources, who might not even be members of the Hawks. Alternatively, he could lay a complaint against the newspapers at, say, the Press Ombudsman, but as long as the reports are found to have been fair and well-researched, he might not get much remedy there.
These concerns are a déjà vu of the previous round of succession fights within the ANC. Just over five years ago, the Youth League’s former hero, then SA’s former deputy president Jacob Zuma, was complaining that his human rights were being violated by the Scorpions investigation into his financial affairs. The League joined in this chorus.
The Scorpions very helpfully contacted the media when they did raids, not just on Zuma, but also other public figures and politicians. The reasoning was that justice needed to be seen to be done (and to serve as a deterrent), but the subjects of these raids insisted they had the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The raids made them look guilty, and invaded their privacy, they said.
The Scorpions, in short, were at that time seen as an instrument used by then president Thabo Mbeki to eliminate any possible opponents, threats or people he didn’t want to challenge him for his job. We all know how that ended. Zuma is now president, the Scorpions have been squashed and Mbeki is quietly contemplating the latest fights from behind his pipe.
This time Zuma is no longer the victim, but the alleged perpetrator in power, and Malema is the victim who is being prevented from staking a claim to the throne for his chosen one.
The Youth League on Monday painted Malema as the victim of a malicious media campaign to break down his “achievements” at his economic freedom march the week before. In a statement, it said the League “would like to categorically affirm that cheap and petty politics that seek to veer the organisation away from struggles for economic freedom in our lifetime will never succeed. The spreading of rumours and constant attempts of character assassination actually inspire and agitate the leadership and membership of the ANCYL to fight with more determination”.
It also denied that there was any communication between Malema and the Hawks, and that the “faceless sources” quoted in the newspaper stories “are according to us spreading sensational rumours”.
Other reports that sort of detracted from Malema’s march were about his jetting off to Mauritius for a lavish R10 million party there. But seeing that the reports were true and journalists were invited to the party, where they took pictures of people in purple suits, the League knew better than to keep this one in the headlines. DM
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