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ANALYSIS

Rule of law? What rule of law? Julius Malema’s never-ending soaring above SA law continues

Rule of law? What rule of law? Julius Malema’s never-ending soaring above SA law continues
EFF leader Julius Malema. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti)

As yet another tussle involving the law and EFF leader Julius Malema plays out in court, he is, as always, deliberate in his determination to be above the law.

Julius Malema has been in court several times and acquitted of various criminal charges. Those who support the independence of the judiciary can hardly complain when judges find, according to the law, that he is not guilty. But, in an age when there is a video camera in every pocket, the examples of him and other EFF leaders committing acts of violence and being acquitted have important consequences.

Later this week, Malema and his co-accused Adriaan Snyman are due to ask the East London magistrate in his firearm discharge case to drop the charges against them. They will argue that the prosecution has not brought a case they need to answer.

The charge in question is the illegal discharge of a firearm. It relates to a video which emerged of Malema appearing to fire a gun into the air during an EFF rally in East London five years ago.

Despite this apparent video evidence, it is entirely possible that Malema’s lawyers will succeed in their application.

First, there appear to be problems with the chain of evidence, as the prosecution has not been able to trace the person who filmed the original video.

Second, Malema’s own VIP protection officers (who were presumably on the scene at the time) say they have no memory of him firing this gun.

And it appears the security company which provided the firearm in question has records indicating that it was not in East London on that day, but in fact in Johannesburg.

This means that despite the apparent video evidence, viewed by many people, Malema may well be found not guilty.

law malema snyman

Malema‘s co-accused Adriaan Snyman at the East London Regional Court on 11 September 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Lulama Zenzile)

This follows a familiar theme.

At the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Malema and former EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi were filmed slapping a white police officer.

They were found not guilty of assault.

Long before that, EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu was filmed pushing a  journalist up against a wall using physical force in what many people believe was an assault. 

He was cleared of legal wrongdoing

While there have been other incidents in which EFF leaders have been accused of violence, the striking point in these particular cases is that there is video evidence. And yet they have been acquitted (or could be in the East London case).

True Colours

This apparent trend raises interesting points.

First, it suggests that despite Malema’s repeated claims that the judiciary is biased against him, or is the tool of Cyril Ramaphosa or “White Monopoly Capital”, this is clearly not the case.

It should make it harder for him to continue to attack judges in this way.

It also provides a test for those who oppose Malema and support the rule of law. If they believe that judges are independent and that politicians should not attack the judiciary, they must accept the findings in these cases, no matter how puzzling they may appear, and would be well-advised not to complain about them publicly.

At the same time though, there are other consequences.

It is hard to imagine an ordinary citizen being filmed slapping a police officer, pushing a journalist into a wall or firing a gun into the air, and getting away with it.

Malema’s opponents can understandably view the findings of these court cases as revealing that he is above the law — no matter what he does, he gets away with it.

Beyond reasonable doubt: VBS scandal exposed Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu’s corrupt dealings

Special treatment

The fact that he is the only political leader who is not a current or former member of the executive to have VIP protection provided by the state reinforces the perception that he is getting special treatment.

Malema and fellow EFF leaders may want to continue down this path — if they can get away with all of the above, why stop now?

But there is another, more damaging consequence.

In a country in which the rule of law has never been fully accepted by everyone (the rule of apartheid law was of course used as an instrument of oppression, as the fire at the former Johannesburg pass office reminds us), these findings will provoke even less trust in the law and less interest in adhering to it.

After all, if Malema can get away with it, why can’t I? 

And what would have happened if some of these cases had been reversed? If a white police officer had physically handled Malema or Ndlozi, how would they have responded?

If a member of AfriForum was filmed shooting a firearm into the air, would the EFF have demanded they be held legally accountable?

This feeds into another disturbing trend, where the extremes of our society seek to dominate the political conversation.

Normally, the rule of law would be used to provide some level of control over this. But if that rule is no longer accepted, unrestrained behaviour follows, with the weakening of the political centre, which is where the ANC and the DA find themselves.

There will be more cases to come.

The NSPCA has lodged another case against Malema, alleging he is guilty of animal cruelty for stabbing a cow several times in an attempt to slaughter it. This too was caught on video. He would have known that he was being filmed and that it could lead the NSPCA into this action.

This will allow him to claim that he is being prosecuted simply for following the traditions of most people of this country, and that the NSPCA is controlled by white people.

And again, he may be able to use the courts for political grandstanding, as he has done since at least 2011, during his first hate-speech trial.

So far, for more than a decade, this deliberate strategy has worked for him.

He is likely to repeat it and/or escalate it, no matter what the cost to the perception of the rule of law, South Africa’s democracy and its people. The main domain Julius Malema will continue to serve is himself and himself alone. DM

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  • mjhauptstellenbosch says:

    THIS is why I say: Keep Pres Cyril, as he is the lesser evil.

    One day when Pres Malema is in charge of the country,
    we will pray to have Pres Cyril back!

    (In the same way we are praying now to have Pres Zuma back)

    • Willem Boshoff says:

      A substantial voter turnout supporting the Multi-Party Charter (DA, Action SA, VF+, IFP etc) will rid us of the ANC/EFF. We need not settle for the “lesser of evils”. Every South African with a conscience need to turn up and vote in 2024.

    • Sven Leisegang says:

      > (In the same way we are praying now to have Pres Zuma back)

      There are very few who ever want Zuma back.

      His turmoil in power was a very large turning point in government completely turning their back on South Africa, as to line personal pockets.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    “ After all, if Malema can get away with it, why can’t I?” In this statement, Mr. Grootes exactly the crisis in which we find ourselves. Be it taxi drivers driving recklessly, individuals and businesses not paying taxes, or various people in positions of authority sexually abusing children, we are living in a Mad Max world of utter anarchy from which it will be impossible to come back. Of course, it’s not limited to SA, we see it everywhere, but as the old advert went, we didn’t invent it, we just perfected it.

    • Paul T says:

      I like to think that Malema, like any other mafia boss who can’t go straight, will slip up one too many times, with the wrong investigator, the wrong prosecutor and all the tidy evidence put in front of a good judge and he gets locked away into irrelevance. One can dream!

    • jonathan65 says:

      Have you considered that the EFF may be nothing more than a page from the ANC playbook to control more radicalised voters, and stop them from splintering off.

      How do you stop marginalised, seething and unhappy genZ & anyone else that’ll listen from splintering off from your party?

      You give them a voice to rally around. Preferably one on a short leash, that you can control, with special treatment.

      It’s called factionalism, or controlled opposition.

  • Wendy Dewberry says:

    Not that I am wishing it to be so, but perhaps humankind is inevitably moving into a different state of being and , despite our moral outrage at all these new undesirable anti social precedents, it is indeed a systemic inevitability?

    You know the old story – put one mouse in a box its lonely, put two they are happier, put three they becomes social, but there is the point where there are too many and behaviours become completely anti-social.

    • Jennifer D says:

      That is where we are going – a different state of being with too many mice. Rich countries are being invaded with desperate individuals and survival of the fittest no longer applies – survival of all is the call. We are seeing the result of our interference with nature and we are unable to manage the outcome. With predictions of 10-12 billion people at the current rate of growth in the next 100 years and an estimation that the earth can sustain only 9 billion? What next? And SA encourages procreation in children with their grants.

      • Caroline de Braganza says:

        That last sentence was uncalled for. There’s no certainty in population growth predictions – it could be as low as 7.3 billion – lower than our current 7.5 billion. Overall people are living longer and having less children, so fewer people are born to replace them. The number of centenarians will increase from 500,000 (2017 figures) to over 26-million by 2100 – that’s of more concern than how many children grant recipients have.

        A child born in the US will produce around 20,000 Kgs of CO2 annually, compared to the figure of 100 Kgs for a child born in Africa. Connect the dots.

        • Ben Harper says:

          You’re ignoring the stats for developing nations, Western countries are seeing a decline in population not developing nations, they continue to grown and is it exacerbated by people living longer

        • Mario de Abreu says:

          Caroline, there are none so blind as those that will not see, What colour is the sky on your planet?

          • Ben Harper says:

            Don’t worry, its another climate alarmist, more interested in CO2 emissions of children that the overpopulation of the planet

  • Pwgg says:

    Julius Malema was created by Zuma to be the ANC covert terrorist wing.
    He says and treads where the ANC big wigs dare not. Always protected but controlled by the evil ANC.

  • Tim Gaunt says:

    What is happening with the VBS case? No video evidence for that one – but as DM’s other article puts it, his criminal participation is “beyond reasonable doubt”.

  • Hester Dobat says:

    Yes the reflection upon the implications of Malema’s dodging of the law, certainly puts the use of videos as evidence under scrutiny. If video evidence cannot convict if the recorder of that video cannot be found, raises a lot of questions. What happened to the person who recoded the video. Why is that person ‘missing’? Which videos will be allowed as part of evidence and which not. I believe dysfunctional despots have the power to baffle brains because of every sphere of our country has become tainted by the chaos of evil intent bedevilling good practise.

    • Mario de Abreu says:

      video evidence is only relevant to the authorities when it is a member of the minority caught either swearing, assaulting someone in a swimming pool or car park, or extolling the virtues of some Greek beach. Then video evidence becomes the pivotal hinge with which to lay serious charges against the individual. Apart from that, it useless. You could for example take a video of one of our government ministers holding up a bank and it would be deemed inadmissible.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Wants white capitalists in the sea but has a Jewish white lawyer defending him every time out of the Dali Mpofu playbook. This is what was created by the playbook. Make the police as incompetent as possible, get our judiciary system in a way so that nothing will stand in court. Nothing can be found against us. Was there death threats or something else for everybody who saw or heard nothing and with the fire arm not being in the right place. For the EFF everything is possible with the support of his fighters. Denise Smit

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    One day is one day. And hopefully that day is sooner, rather than later.

  • Thulani Dhlamini says:

    I am beginning to take interest in your based and supremacist reporting on Mr Malema, Mr Grootes.

    For starters, Mr Malema doesn’t acquit himself but the courts. Secondly, i would have expected you out of all people to understand this, that the courts work on evidence and cases “proven beyond reasonable doubt”, they don’t operate on emotions and popular even though minority, view.
    Thirdly, nowhere has Mr Malema ever alleged that the courts are biased towards ‘him’, that’s a blatant lie. He has blamed the lack of transformation in the judiciary which leads to a colonized era way of running justice. He has also lamented judges who play politics from the bench. It is a known historic fact that our courts still promote white supremacy and treat offenses by white mostly racist offenders with kid gloves.
    Lastly, the NSPCA case is bound to fail and it is disappointing to see the white supremacist dragging such a reputable organization down the political gutter drain. Henceforth, we’ll treat the NSPCA is the political organization that it seeks to be. It’s well noted!

    We will never stop slaughtering, no colonial and apartheid law aimed at undermining and belittling our traditions and cultures. NSPCA welcome to the political arena, trust and hope you have the stomach for politics.

    • Hidden Name says:

      What on earth are you trying to say? Biased, supremacist reporting? Thats quite the position to take. Care to defend it?

      • Thulani Dhlamini says:

        By all means. Biased in that, Mr Grootes has nothing to report on Mr Malema. Both his last two articles on the CiC are biased against him and are full of fabrications meant to create interest and paranoi.
        Yes ‘supremist reporting’ (even if i have to invent my own terms), i’ve always took Mr Grootes for an objective journalist but the two articles i’ve mentioned above gives me a sense that he is a supremist. In no certain words, but you can tell that Mr Malema’s growing popularity frustrates him. He is trying by all means to demonize any thing Malema.

        Criticism is good and acceptable, but a concerted effort to discredit a certain leader because of his political views which will be obviously intertwined into his race, is distasteful.

    • William Dryden says:

      Thats the trouble, we have to live with tribal customs which for me are abhorrent in todays modern society. Malema caused great pain on the animal he tried to slaughter and should be punished accordingly.

    • Mario de Abreu says:

      @Daily Maverick: I am extremely disappointed that you have allowed such vitriol to be published by this shebuyit individual! Perhaps you missed the part where he writes “” we will never stop slaughtering.”” Do I have your permission to write equally offensive rhetoric and call for the total eradication of blacks?

  • Hilary Morris says:

    It is indeed a very worrying trend. What is it about this thug that allows him to – probably literally – get away with murder? It is also interesting how much air time he gets relative to the size of his party. Endless interviews and requests from comment from our so called “independent and impartial” news provider. And as an aside, what the hell was the long interview with the totally irrelevant Carl Niehaus on SABC a few days ago. Almost a freak show, with no mention of his lies and lack of any credibility. There seems nowhere to turn (other than DM, for truth to power.

  • Ian Schofield Schofield says:

    Are the police protecting Malema by not investigating cases thoroughly so that the lawyers are able to find faults and thus win their case?????

  • Les Thorpe says:

    Didn’t know anyone bothered with “the law” in S.A. anymore, or adhered to any court judgements/determinations. But obviously there are diverse applications of “the law” depending on one’s pedigree. One interpretation and application for the politicos/wealthy: a second, entirly different for the rest of us.

  • William Dryden says:

    I’m surprised he hasn’t been taken out like the poor whistle blowers.

  • Martin Smith says:

    So no provenance for the video, records show gun was not in that particular location on that day, people present who ‘don’t remember’; and all this years after the event with many postponed hearings of this case in between… it reminds me of 1920s America.

  • Rob Alexander says:

    I asked ChatGPT to list similarities in behaviour between Julius Malema and Adolf Hitler using < 1450 characters:

    Comparing Julius Malema and Adolf Hitler's behaviour, while recognizing their vastly different historical contexts and impacts:

    Charismatic Oratory: Both had strong public speaking skills, using charisma to rally supporters through passionate speeches.

    Populist Rhetoric: They employed populist messages, appealing to grievances and positioning themselves as champions of the common people against perceived elites.

    Nationalism: Both expressed fervent nationalist sentiments. Hitler promoted Aryan supremacy, while Malema advocates African nationalism.

    Controversial Statements: They made provocative remarks that polarized public opinion. Hitler's anti-Semitic comments are infamous, while Malema has sparked debates on race and inequality.

    Political Radicalism: Both were associated with radical ideologies. Hitler led the Nazi Party, promoting fascism, while Malema's EFF advocates radical economic reforms.

    Authoritarian Leanings: They exhibited authoritarian tendencies. Hitler's regime was authoritarian and repressive, while Malema's confrontational approach has been criticized.

    These behavioural similarities exist but should be understood within their distinct historical contexts, with Hitler's actions during WWII being of vastly greater consequence than Malema's contemporary political activities. Comparisons should be made carefully and responsibly.

  • Mark Mann says:

    I can’t wait to read his obituary.

  • Carol Green says:

    Why does Malema have VIP protection and why is this not being questioned??? This is apart from the fact that the cost of VIP protection in SA is outrageous and should be reduced dramatically.

  • Robert Vos Vos says:

    Sbuyanitp9, right, ethical and decent behaviour are not reserved for any race group, but are the cornerstones of a civilised society. They are values that society generally needs to stick to unless we, as a civilised community, wish to descend into a state of chaos and lawlessness! Mr. Malema may feel that he is above the law, but his behaviour, and that of the courts in cases where he was acquitted under dubious circumstances, will eventually lead to his followers copying his reprehensible behaviour. Is that what we in South Africa wish for; to become a barbaric society?

    • Joe Lethuli says:

      Rob Vos, Malema has never portrayed himself being above the law. He gets charged, he attends courts and plead his cases. Is that what you call being above the law? Need I remind you that cases are conducted on evidence? Can we please allow the courts to do their work without us dictating what the outcomes must be?

      • Robert Vos Vos says:

        Are we talking here about the same law that has kept Zuma off the hook for the past 14 or so years? Or perhaps the same law that seems to apply to Malema and Shivambu in respect of their financial windfalls following the VBS heist. Try those stunts as a private citizen Joe and you will find yourself in the full sights of the law so fast your head will spin.

      • Hi Joe, using Amplats*co*za mail to respond….is this what Amplats promote? i think we should move from RSA….Guys, we in for a very difficult time seeing Amplats communication platform is used for promoting Malama’s shenanigans.

  • Joe Lethuli says:

    I thought SG was against people who undermine judiciary but this piece tells me otherwise. He (SG) is insinuating that Malema gets preferential treatment from judiciary, and yet he is complaining when Malema says criticizes the judiciary. How hypocritical can one be. All cases mentioned by SG have gone through the courts, and judges made rulings, something that seem to be hard for SG to swallow. I am, and will not tolerate lawlessness, but if the courts have made a ruling, live with it Mr. Grootes!

  • Patrick Devine says:

    VBS

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    I’m here in the EU on an extended LSD holiday. WTF – we’ve lost the plot in SA. Sell, guys. Get your butts out of there. ZA = Zimbabwe, DRC, Angola etc. etc. Our ONCE beautiful country is GONZO. If you think things will miraculously improve after election day 2024, you’re thoroughly delusional. The only space left untouched by the hand of destruction is the Western Cape – and that is top priority for destruction by the ANC. Reduce everything to the LCD. Never kid yourselves, the blight is running.

  • Morrison Belebana says:

    Malema is not the problem, the problem is our judicial system which doesn’t have guts to uphold the rule of law. You can’t ignore the law at the expense of justice.

  • Liesl van Wyk says:

    The stagnation stemming from clinging to the familiar is both infuriating and regressive. “To reach new shores, one must lose sight of the old.” Yet, many remain fixated on figures like Malema or Cyril, ignoring the vast potential of alternative solutions. This potential is eclipsed by outdated ‘Struggle Politics’ and ‘Liberation Movements’. The challenges faced by the black community today echo past struggles, demanding we abandon outdated movements and confront extremist tendencies head-on.

    Time is running out. Those entrenched in systemic corruption and superfluous state positions will soon face reckoning. The “lesser evil” sentiment is a toxin in our socio-political landscape. This “devil we know” approach perpetuates the pitfalls of a “patronage state,” where loyalty trumps merit, eroding public trust.

    Nostalgia for leaders like Zuma is misguided. Every delay pushes us further from effective governance. It’s not about Malema or Cyril; it’s about genuine public service. We must champion merit-based governance and reject the “lesser evil” narrative. South Africa’s future demands decisive action now.

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