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Malema unfazed by NPA charges against him

Malema was given a summons by police officers in the middle of a press conference yesterday.

FILE: EFF leaders Julius Malema addresses the media at a press conference at the party’s head office in Johannesburg on 13 October 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says two charges of breaking the 1950s Riotous Assemblies Act that have been levelled against him show that the state is getting desperate.

Malema was given the summons by police officers in the middle of a press conference yesterday.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says he's been charged for inciting people to break the law, in relation to comments he made telling people to occupy empty land.

The first comment was made in Bloemfontein two years ago, the second was made in Newcastle earlier this year.

"So if you see a piece of land and you like it, don't apologise, go and occupy that land. That land belongs to us."

Malema says he's not surprised he's now being charged by the NPA.

"It's a continuous thing and we're not cry-babies, it's our life, we've chosen this life. And we'll fight this battles until victory is certain."

Constitutional Organisation Casac's Lawson Naidoo says the timing of these charges doesn't make sense.

"He has a right to express his political views. He must not be harassed in the manner that he's been harassed."

But the original charge was laid by the organisation Afriforum. It says it's pleased it's being taken seriously.



MALEMA NOT WORRIED

The NPA says its head of the Priority Crimes Litigation Unity, Torie Pretorius, took this decision and that Malema knew he was breaking the law because he offered to pay his members' legal fees.

The NPA says Pretorius had consulted with the prosecutorial heads in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal before making this decision.

But Malema says he's not worried.

"All those who are seen to be opponents, an alternative voice must be suppressed through state institutions. But with me, they've met their match."

Meanwhile, Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution's Lawson Naidoo says it's bizarre that Malema is being charged under the Riotous Assembly Act that was signed into law by the governor general in 1956.

"It's an apartheid-era piece of legislation being executed with apartheid-era policing tactics."

Malema now has two separate courts dates: one in Bloemfontein and one in Newcastle.

The NPA has also confirmed that it has decided not to charge Malema for high treason after he gave an interview to Al-Jazeera in which he'd said people would remove this government through the barrel of a gun.