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Civil society groups express deep concern over EFF attack on Zondo commission

The organisations say the EFF’s utterances not only place witnesses who have testified before the commission in harms way but may deter potential witnesses from coming forward.

EFF leader Julius Malema outside Brooklyn police station addressing his supporters. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

PRETORIA – Several civil society organisations have joined hands to express their deep concern at the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)’s attacks on the state capture commission of inquiry.

A joint statement was issued on Tuesday by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law, the Helen Suzman Foundation, Johannesburg Against Injustice as well as Section 27.

At a gathering outside the Zondo commission last week, party leader Julius Malema described the commission as a mickey mouse show, insulted deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and the evidence leader and warned that there could be a loss of life.

On Tuesday, Malema told supporters outside the Brooklyn Police Station that he respects the commission and it should be free to do its work.

The civil society organisations say that expression and protest action that threatens harm, that flirts with racist and bigoted sentiment and hate speech can erode South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

They say repeated unsubstantiated claims reveal an agenda that goes beyond criticism of the Zondo commission.

The organisations say the EFF’s utterances not only place witnesses who have testified before the commission in harm's way but may deter potential witnesses from coming forward.

They add that the onslaught by the EFF shows that the party is intent on drowning out and forcing a shutdown of the work of the commissions.

In Pretoria on Tuesday, Malema denied that he threatened the commissions and defended his criticism of Minister Pravin Gordhan.

WATCH: 'You push me, I push back' - Malema opens case against Gordhan

Meanwhile, Gordhan issued a statement saying the actions of the Malema and Floyd Shivambu are a flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system.

The minister says the so-called charge sheet drafted by the EFF is baseless and contains a set of lies, fake news and fabrications.

Earlier on Tuesday, the red beret leaders laid a criminal complaint against the minister at the Brooklyn police station.

It followed criminal complaints laid against them by the minister, at that same police station, over comments Malema made outside the Zondo commission last week.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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