The assault case of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi’s will finally start on 13 October.
The two are accused of allegedly assaulting a police officer at the funeral of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in 2018, wtih the incident being captured on CCTV.
Reports suggested that the scuffle between three senior EFF leaders and a police officer broke out after they were allegedly denied entry into the Fourways Memorial Park, where the struggle stalwart was laid to rest.
In a statement, lobby group AfriForum said the trial date hearing was heard in Malema and Ndlozi’s absence at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning.
AfriForum has been behind the concerted push for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prosecute Malema and Ndlozi since July 2019.
The organisation has welcomed the setting of a trial date, saying: “… it was believed from the outset that there was a prima facie case against Malema and Ndlozi.
“Following continued pressure from AfriForum, the NPA reconsidered their initial refusal to prosecute and instituted prosecution. Now the court must go its course and we will continue to support the police colonel,” said advocate Phyllis Vorster, who is a prosecutor at Afriforum.
“The senior policeman lodged a complaint with the police, but it did not receive any attention until AfriForum’s private prosecution unit inquired about the investigation in January 2019,” the organisation said.
According to Afriforum, a warrant of arrest could not be issued in court on Monday after the prosecutor had indicated that the original charge sheet could not be traced at present.
“Both Malema and Ndlozi must also appear in court on 14 September so that an investigation into the suspension of the warrants can serve before the court, because they did not attend previous court proceedings due to Covid-19 regulations.”
AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said that Malema and Ndlozi could try to delay justice, but they would not be able to continue to evade it.
His comments come after Malema’s legal team allegedly delayed the case by asking for an adjournment because they wanted more time to study the CCTV footage and consult with witnesses.
Both Malema and Ndlozi had previously denied assaulting the police officer.
“I’ve never done that. If I laid a hand on him, I would have panel-beated 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.