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'The State messed up its own case'

Julius Malema says he has been waiting to tell his side of the story and wanted to be tried separately.

Julius Malema greeted the media as he entered court during the second day of his fraud and corruption trial in Polokwane. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

POLOKWANE - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says he was ready to answer to charges of fraud and corruption, but he insists that the state "messed up" its case.

The trial, which was set to get underway this week, has been struck from the roll because one of Malema's co-accused was not in court.

The case relates to a 2009 tender awarded by the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport to On Point Engineering, a company co-owned by Malema.

Malema thanked his supporters, family and his grandmother.

"Simple words yet very courageous. I knew that coming from her [his grandmother], it is genuine and true that indeed she believes in my innocence."

Judge Billy Mothle says he did not want to postpone the matter once again and dismissed the State's application to continue without Kagisho Dichabe.

Dichabe has been hospitalised but didn't apply for leave from the court.

Malema says he has been waiting to tell his side of the story and wanted to be tried separately.

"I would have wished to have an opportunity to answer to each and every allegation put before us, before a neutral court of law. Unfortunately the State messed up its own case."

Malema and his co accused Lesiba Gwangwa are now essentially off the hook.

But the State can still reinstate the charges against them.

DOES THIS MEAN THE STATE DIDN'T PREPARE PROPERLY?

Legal expert Cliff Alexander says the State is not to blame.

"The public must understand it's not the fault of the State that the matter couldn't proceed. It's the fault of the co-accused who wasn't there. Separation of trials normally happens when one of the co-accused pleads guilty. When the co-accused blame one other it will often be in the interest of justice to try them together."

Lawyer Zola Majavu says Malema has not been vindicated.

"The judge's decision simply said, 'Mr Malema, for now you are free to go, but remember you have not been vindicated because the court has not pronounced on your guilt or innocence'."

Majavu says the State will most likely reinstate the charges as soon as possible.

"The National Prosecuting Authority would be hugely embarrassed if they do not reinstate the charges against Mr Malema because they have always contended that they were ready to proceed."

Alexander adds it's highly unlikely that today's ruling marks the end of the road for Malema.

"Malema says he wants his day in court to prove his innocence. The State is there to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He will most definitely have his day in court."