A man died today after tripping over a chain outside the Pretoria High Court where controversial political party leader, Julius Malema was fighting for an interdict to stop South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from charging more than R600,000 ($55 600) deposit to submit lists of election candidates. Identified only as Max, the man died while participating with other Malema supporters in a political rally while the court case was in progress. Malema has labeled the SA system capitalist, and has said that the IEC should be ashamed for waging a war against the poor.
Max, who was dressed in black jeans and an official shirt branded by Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party reportedly died of a head injury. Malema later told EFF supporters that the party would pay for the man’s funeral. Supporters had been singing and dancing outside the courthouse for several hours before the incident.
Malema was in court ahead of the March 12 deadline for deposits to be paid by political parties contesting the country’s upcoming national elections on May 7. In addition to the IEC, he has also named South African President Jacob Zumu, and the Minister of Home Affairs, Naledi Pandor in his interdict application. Malema maintains there should be alternative methods to enable political parties to “show their seriousness.” He has said they are “tired of being dominated by capitalist ideas,” and that to exclude parties from the polls because of “affordability” is equal to excluding them because of race.
The IEC is a publicly funded body that is accountable to parliament, but independent of government. It is their job to ensure that all elections are “free and fair.” One of their many functions is to ensure that there is an up-to-date register of all political parties in the country. There are currently 13 political parties represented in the SA parliament, including the ruling African National Congress (ANC) that holds 264 of the 400 seats. Several parties are not represented in parliament, including the EFF founded by Malema after being expelled as leader of the ruling party’s Youth League two years ago because of hate speech. It is presented as a militant and radical “economic emancipation movement” that states it is fighting for economic freedom.
Judge Joseph Raulinga did not make a judgment today but indicated that he would announce his verdict prior to the IEC March 12 deadline. Radio reports stated that Julius Malema had been allowed to leave the courtroom early to address his supporters outside the court, most of whom were aware that a man had died while Malema was busy fighting what he maintains is a capitalist system in SA.
Meanwhile, yesterday Malema failed to appear in the Polokwane District Court in Limpopo Province in a crimen injuria case he initiated last year. The court issued a warrant of arrest against him and postponed the case to July 8.
Last week he was acquitted of charges of “reckless or negligent driving” in the Vanderbijlpark (Johannesburg) court after the state was not able to prove the equipment used to record the speed he was traveling at was in “good working order.” In December he was arrested after he had allegedly been driving at 215 km (134 miles) an hour in a 120 km (75 miles) an hour zone. The traffic police are appealing the acquittal.
Until last year, when his fixed property was attached and auctioned, Julius Malema owned two houses and a farm. The houses were attached by the South African Revnue Services against an outstanding R16,5 million ($1,5 million) tax debt, and the farm was attached by the asset forfeiture unit after allegations that Malema had used “proceeds of crime” to buy it. One of the houses was a three storey, partly built mansion in upper class Sandton, Johannesburg; the other was a four-bedroomed home in Polokwane. They were sold for R5.5 million and R1.4 million ($512 000 and $130 000) respectively. His cabbage and tomato farm in Limpopo was sold for R2,5 million ($233 000).
Malema is currently out on R10,000 ($928) bail charged with fraud, money laundering, corruption, and racketeering. He has applied for charges to be withdrawn, but will not know until next month (April 2014) whether his application is successful. If not, he will be tried in October this year.
Three weeks ago the High Court in Pretoria placed the anti-capitalist Julius Malema in provisional sequestration. If this becomes final, he will not be eligible to serve in the SA parliament. A spokesman for the EFF, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said that they would be fighting the decision and if necessary appeal to the “highest court of the land” in the South African system. The man who died today will not influence this decision.
By Penny Swift