EFF leader Julius Malema was interviewed by Redi Tlhabi on SABC News show Unfiltered, where the pair discussed the launch of the EFF’s new manifesto in an amicable chat that was going well – until, that is, the leader of the red berets was questioned on the EFF’s accusations regarding a Canadian bank account they claim belongs to Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.
Malema lodged a criminal case against Gordhan at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria on November 2018.
Part of the charges related to a Canadian bank account the minister is alleged to have, in which he supposedly has more than R665 million stashed away as a result of earlier “favours” for taxpayers.
“He ordered various taxpayers to deposit large amounts of money into the said account in exchange for favours, which were to the detriment of the fiscus and the South African public,” the party’s charges against Gordhan alleged.
News24 fact-checked the EFF’s claims about Gordhan, coming to the conclusion that such an account at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) could not exist. The alleged account number reportedly was not even in line with ones the bank actually issues, and the numbers seemed to have been “made up”, among other reasons the charges seemed suspicious.
The personable tone of Tlhabi’s interview with Malema changed sharply after she brought up the account.
“You say you he has a bank account in Canada. He doesn’t,” Tlhabi said.
She added that she was willing not to assume the EFF’s guilt in the VBS scandal but asked why the party wouldn’t afford the minister the same courtesy.
“Why is it you won’t afford him that same latitude if he hasn’t been found guilty?” Tlhabi asked.
Malema’s answer was that Tlhabi was “not even allowed to say he doesn’t have an account”.
“You can’t throw things. You must back it up,” Tlhabi responded.
“I’ve given the police the account number,” Malema said.
“But they checked it and they found it doesn’t exist,” Tlhabi countered.
“You are relying on [News24 editor] Adriaan Basson. He’s not the police,” Malema said, referring to how the News24 editor-in-chief had co-authored the fact-check article.
“But Adriaan Basson is an investigative reporter,” was Tlhabi’s response. “The authorities in Canada were phoned, Mr Malema, you can’t make stuff up,” she added.
Malema then said he had gone to the police station, to which Tlhabi replied: “But you go there with files, we don’t know what’s in there, it could just be love novels.”
“Uh-uh, you can’t take love letters to the police, it is not a place for love. Uh-uh it’s not Valentine’s at the police station,” Malema responded.
Tlhabi told him that Malema could indeed have taken love letters to the police as he wanted people to believe the party’s narrative on Gordhan.
“You must back up what you are saying,” she insisted.
“At the police station I backed up, I gave them the necessary information, I didn’t just talk,” was his final word on the matter.
The interview concluded soon after with its tone having changed significantly.
“Please give the new national director of public prosecutions [Shamila Batohi] a chance to do her work,” was Tlhabi’s outgoing comment, referring to accusations from the party at their manifesto launch that Batohi was allegedly “close to” Gordhan and doing his bidding.
“She must prosecute friends of Pravin: [former SARS official Johann] van Loggerenberg, [former Sars official] Ivan Pillay must be prosecuted,” was Malema’s response.