Heavy police presence outside court ahead of Malema's appearance

Police have blocked some of the roads around the court and a water cannon can also be seen near the court.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members walk across the road as they wait for their party leader Julius Malema to appear in court at the Newcastle Magistrates Court on 7 November 2016. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN.

DURBAN – There’s a heavy police presence outside the Newcastle Magistrates Court where Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members have gathered in a show of support for party leader Julius Malema, who is due to appear this morning.

Malema will appear on charges of contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act, allegedly urging his supporters to invade land.

He made the remarks earlier this year, as the party celebrated the 61st anniversary of the Freedom Charter.

Police have blocked some of the roads around the court.

A water cannon can also be seen near the court.

There is strict screening to access the building, with officers searching bags of those wishing to enter the premises.

One of the EFF supporters says he agrees with the remarks Malema made about invading land.

“People should occupy land wherever they see an open space. We’ve got rights to occupy land because we believe that this is our land, and most of the land in South Africa is owned by foreign people.”

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) served Malema with a summons last month while addressing a media briefing about the party’s plans to march in Pretoria in support of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who faced fraud charges that were dropped last week.

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

These are the remarks that landed Julius Malema in hot water.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has questioned the timing of the charges.

“They are using state institutions to silence him, and you can imagine with a silent president of the EFF in the form of Julius Malema. You won’t have Nkandla solved, you won’t have the Guptas solved.”

He says Malema was merely quoting from the Freedom Charter, which says, “all shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose”.

Ndlozi says EFF members will be demonstrating outside the court in defence of the Freedom Charter.

“They have charged him arguing that was an incitement and he shouldn’t say such things. It can’t be as it were under the new law that one can’t celebrate the provisions of the Freedom Charter.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)