EFF leader Julius Malema, who risked arrest had he failed to appear in the Randburg magistrate’s court on Monday, said it was irresponsible for the court to have summoned him to appear.
Speaking to the media shortly after his case was heard in court, where his trial was set down for October, Malema said: “I think it was unnecessary for us to come today because we are going through a pandemic as a country, therefore any court that requests us to appear without [hearing evidence in the] trial is risking our lives and the lives of ordinary people.”
Malema said the court had placed himself and others in danger by making him physically attend proceedings.
“You will know that, as public figures, when we come here, a lot of people will want to interact with us and we don’t know who is in a good state of health and who is not, so it was irresponsible to even ask us to appear,” he said.
CIC @Julius_S_Malema is addressing members of the media outside the Randburg Magistrates Court on the court proceedings.
The matter has been postponed to the 13th of October for trial purposes. pic.twitter.com/FzUbL4Qb2l
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) September 14, 2020
The red berets leader said he also had criminal charges pending in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal courts. He said those courts had agreed that there was no need for him to attend what would be postponed proceedings.
“All those courts have said for the purposes of postponement of these cases, it will not be necessary for us to appear especially now during Covid-19. So I think someone was irresponsible by inviting us here,” he said.
In the Randburg court, Malema and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi face charges of assault relating to an incident that unfolded at the funeral of struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in 2018.
The pair face assault charges after they were allegedly caught on CCTV footage assaulting a police officer at the funeral.
During the last court sitting, AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, which had pushed for the prosecution, told TimesLIVE the court sought to establish why Malema and Ndlozi had failed to appear in court.
“Both Malema and Ndlozi will have to appear in court on September 14 for a court investigation into whether the warrants of arrest against them should be suspended because they failed to attend previous court proceedings,” said advocate Phyllis Vorster for AfriForum’s prosecution unit.
The two men had allegedly missed previous court proceedings due to the coronavirus pandemic and its regulations.
Their trial has been set down for October 13 and 28.
“The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) reconsidered its initial refusal to prosecute after continued pressure from AfriForum, and has since instituted prosecution. Now the legal process must run its course. However, we will continue to support the police colonel,” said Vorster.
The lobby group pursued action against the two after it alleged the NPA had dragged its feet on the case.
“The senior police officer opened a case with the police but it never received attention until AfriForum’s private prosecution unit started inquiring about the investigation in January 2019,” the group said.
The two accused have previously denied assaulting the police officer. “I’ve never done that. If I laid a hand on him, I would have panel-beaten him. I don’t play when I lay a hand. I didn’t do that. Mbuyiseni didn’t do that. All we were fighting for was to enter the cemetery and go to bury our mother,” Malema said, when addressing a crowd outside court.