The East London Magistrate’s Court has issued a warrant of arrest for Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and his co-accused Adrian Snyman after they failed to appear in court on Monday.
However, the court stayed the warrant until 8 May when their trial resumes. The two face charges related to Malema’s alleged discharging of a firearm in public.
A video of the incident taken during the EFF’s 5th anniversary rally in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, in 2018 was widely shared on social media.
NPA’s charges against Malema
In November last year, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced that Malema will face five counts of charges related to the incident.
They include unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, discharging a firearm in a built-up area or public place, and reckless endangerment to people or property.
Snyman’s charges include failing to take reasonable precautions to avoid danger to person or property and providing a firearm or ammunition to any person not allowed to possess it.
In August last year, Malema said the incident was an act of simulation, adding, “It’s not a firearm and no real bullets were shot.”
Malema’s defence of Zuma
Malema and his former nemesis, former President Jacob Zuma, now find themselves in the same predicament.
The Pietermaritzburg high court similarly issued a warrant of arrest for Zuma in early February when he failed to appear in court citing ill health.
The court doubted the veracity of a medical certificate that Zuma’s lawyer had presented and similarly stayed the warrant until 6 May.
Speaking during a question-and-answer session at the Cape Town Press Club on 13 February, Malema criticised the court’s decision and said Zuma must be treated fairly.
He 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 Dhaya 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.