South Africa issues arrest warrant for Julius Malema
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of South African politician Julius Malema, his lawyer says.
South Africa’s elite Hawks unit has been investigating corruption claims against Julius Malema for months, but the details of the charges are not known.
The authorities have refused to comment on reports about the arrest warrant, but lawyer Nicqui Galaktiou says they have confirmed its existence to her.
Julius Malema, 31, once a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, is now a fierce critic.
He strongly denies allegations he profited from government contracts in his home province of Limpopo.
According to the weekly City Press newspaper, he will be charged with fraud, corruption and money-laundering.
Nicqui Galaktiou told Reuters news agency Julius Malema would appear in court next week and would not be jailed or arrested before then.
“We don’t have a confirmed date yet. We have not seen the warrant of arrest. We don’t know what the charges are,” she said.
Julius Malema on Friday afternoon said he was not aware of the reported charges and was trying to find out if the warrant had been issued.
He has become well known in South Africa for his opulent lifestyle, wearing expensive watches and living in an upmarket district of Johannesburg.
When asked where the money comes from, he says his friends gave it to him.
Asked whether he has ever been involved in any corruption, Julius Malema said: “I’ve never been involved in any corrupt activity but I wouldn’t argue with the Hawks, if they say they’ve got a case for me to answer. I will wait for them the day they come to speak to me,” he responded with confidence during a packed media conference.
Julius Malema, known for his fiery rhetoric, was expelled as head of the Youth League of the governing African National Congress (ANC) in April but has recently held several rallies in the Rustenburg area, scene of a violent mining dispute.
He has been calling for a national strike and has accused Jacob Zuma of ignoring the plight of poor black South Africans.
On Monday, Julius Malema was banned by police from addressing striking workers from the Marikana mine. The miners agreed to a pay offer the next day and have returned to work.
“Not even the president can stop me. Not even death can stop me. My ideas are out there. Even if I am no more, people will continue those ideas,” Reuters quotes him as saying at a news conference on Tuesday.
Julius Malema’s supporters will see the reported charges as a political witch-hunt, our correspondent says.
But he points out that the investigation began long before the recent strikes.
The ANC is due to meet in December to decide whether Jacob Zuma will remain as party leader going into elections due in 2014.
Julius Malema and others are campaigning for him to be replaced.
Who is Julius Malema?
• Born 3 March 1981 in Limpopo province
• Mother was domestic worker and single parent
• Joined African National Congress (ANC) aged nine
• Elected leader of its youth wing in April 2008
• Convicted of hate speech in March 2010 and September 2011
• Expelled from ANC in April 2012 for sowing divisions in party
• Toured mines following the shooting of 34 miners in Marikana by police in August 2012, urging workers to make the sector “ungovernable”
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