The DA accused the ANC-led government on Wednesday of being “terrified” of EFF leader Julius Malema and failing to act against him for several incidents of incitement to commit violence.
Malema, in the latest incident at the weekend in the Free State, said the red berets would go to the homes of police and “fight them in their own houses with their own families”.
He was reacting to police action against protesters in Brackenfell, Cape Town, last week accusing the officers of being “cowards”.
“We are not scared of police. They think this uniform gives them some superior power. We will see you after you take off the uniform, at night at home when you are about to eat pap,” said Malema.
DA shadow minister of police Andrew Whitfield lambasted an apparent lack of action by police minister Bheki Cele.
“It has been more than 48 hours since Malema issued his threat and the minister has done nothing. The ANC government appears terrified to act against Malema in spite of numerous incidents of incitement, threats and violent rhetoric towards SA citizens, businesses and now the state,” he said.
The party called on Cele to pursue charges against Malema.
“The minister’s condemnation of Malema’s comments ring hollow if not followed by decisive action. Strong and decisive action must follow to reassure our men and women in blue and their families that their minister is on their side, not the side of the EFF and their leader,” said Whitfield.
Contacted for comment on Wednesday, police spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said Cele had made a call for action against Malema.
“The minister has made this call and condemnation. What now the police need to do is take it a step further. If there is a case to investigate, they would have to do that,” she said.
‘Shock, dismay and utter disgust’: Solidarity
This comes as civil rights organisation AfriForum and trade union Solidarity on Wednesday said they would pursue criminal charges of defamation, conspiracy to incite violence and assault against Malema.
The union said more than 1,000 police officers had approached them to express concern about Malema’s comments.
“Solidarity has been inundated by police members from across the country expressing their shock, dismay and utter disgust about Malema’s words and threats. It is unacceptable for a political leader who has taken an oath to honour and respect the constitution and other legislation of the country to rage against the police in such a violent manner,” said Solidarity’s Renate Barnard.
AfriForum’s head of policy and action Ernst Roets said it was clear Malema believed he was above the law.
“The reason Malema has been making these statements is that so far there have been no consequences for all the previous incidents where he openly incited violence. If the police do not deal with this matter sufficiently seriously, Malema will see it as confirmation that he is above the law,” he said.
AfriForum’s private prosecution unit said it would monitor the matter to ensure justice was done.
“If Malema is not prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority, the private prosecution unit will prosecute him privately,” said Roets.