Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has said if former President Jacob Zuma is found guilty of corruption, sentencing him to jail would not be “advisable.”
Malema made the remarks during a question-and-answer session with the Press Club of South Africa in Cape Town on Friday.
He said, “If there are charges against [Zuma], he must go to court and answer those charges, but I said that jail time for an old person like that is not advisable.”
Court ‘must take Zuma’s age into account’
Malema added, “What type of society have we become to jail such old people? But it’s for the court to decide… in taking its decision, his age must be taken into consideration.”
He called on the public to be consistent because people who say others must go to jail “don’t say that about a man who called for action against workers of Marikana.”
The EFF leader was referring to the police gunning down dozens of striking mineworkers in Marikana, North West, in 2012. President Cyril Ramaphosa was a director at Lonmin, the company that had employed the workers.
His emails calling for increased police presence to stop killings of non-striking workers and security personnel that had taken place earlier have often been used against him. However, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Malema criticises Zuma arrest warrant
Malema said, “Cyril is given some unjustifiable pass. If there’s a person who must go to jail, it’s Cyril, it’s Susan Shabangu [former minister of mines], it’s Nathi Mthethwa [who was police minister at the time] and Riah Phiyega [police commissioner at the time].”
Malema also criticised Pietermaritzburg high court judge Dhaya Pillay for issuing a warrant of arrest for Zuma, suspended until 6 May.
Pillay issued the warrant after doubting the veracity of a medical certificate Zuma’s lawyer presented in court to show he was too ill to attend.
The EFF leader said, “The judge should have called the doctor to court to come and explain the medical certificate.”
It’s not the job of lawyers to explain medical certificates in court, he said, adding that Judge Pillay shouldn’t have made a conclusion that the certificate was dubious without calling witnesses to explain it.
“We are creating a wrong precedent because it’s happening to a man we don’t like. We question the credibility of the military, we question the credibility of the medical practitioner because we don’t like the man,” Malema said.