'Defiant' Malema seeks High Court order to declare land invasion charges unconstitutional
Newcastle - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has dismissed land invasion charges against him as a rouse to stifle the land debate and has remained firm with the way he views the issue.
"Our call still stands: People must occupy land. That is what the Freedom Charter says and if any court finds me guilty then it will have to find the Freedom Charter an illegal document," he said after appearing in the regional court, sitting in the magistrate's court in Newcastle on Tuesday.
Malema said he was just repeating what the Freedom Charter said.
"I repeat what the generations before us said. So it is not me inventing new things. That is what the struggle has always been about."
It emerged in court that Malema is now seeking a High Court order to declare the case against him unconstitutional, irrational and for it to be set aside.
Heavy police presence
He was due to stand trial on Tuesday but the matter was postponed to Thursday July 6.
If Malema lodges papers in a High Court before then, it is expected that the matter will on Thursday then be postponed to September.
Malema was accompanied to court on Tuesday by members of the EFF leadership, including Floyd Shivambu, Godrich Gardee, Hlengiwe Hlophe and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
When News24 arrived at the court around 07:30, police officers were already using sniffer dogs to sweep the building for any explosives.
The matter was heard under a heavy police presence with officers manning the entrance, the corridors as well as inside the courtroom.
Magistrate Theunis Christiaan Lotter Colditz granted Malema's lawyer Tumi Mokoena a request to postpone the matter to Thursday.
Mokoena told the court he intended filing the High Court papers on Tuesday or at the very latest, Friday July 7.
Speaking to the media shortly after his appearance, Malema said: "We think that [the charges] are malicious and they have no intention to serve any form of justice."
Expropriation of land
Malema said the charges sought to stifle the debate around land and the freedom of speech.
"They want to undermine the call for people to occupy the land because they think that this programme is working and it is benefiting a lot of people. They have no intention of ensuring that black people get the land back - and by getting the land back, they get their dignity back."
In a thinly veiled reference to the ANC, Malema said some claimed to be fighting for the expropriation of land without compensation, but they were using legislation to suppress the same struggle.
"They are in a talk shop there in Johannesburg in Nasrec claiming that they want to pass a resolution that expropriates land… We think that they are clownish, they don't know what they want to achieve."
Malema remained unshaken on the call to occupy land.
He said his lawyer was planning to use the Freedom Charter as well as statements made by former president Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, to defend his call.
Malema is in hot water for calling on EFF supporters to invade unoccupied land in 2016.
According to the charge sheet, he has been accused of incitement to commit a crime on November 7 2016, in Newcastle.
He has already been charged twice (in Newcastle and in Bloemfontein), under the Riotous Assemblies Act.
And he is currently challenging the constitutionality of the Riotous Assemblies Act at the Constitutional Court.