Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has dismissed land invasion charges against him as a ruse to stifle the land debate.
“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,” Malema said after appearing in the regional court, sitting in the magistrates’ court in Newcastle today.
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 was seeking a high court order to declare the case against him unconstitutional, irrational and for it to be set aside.
In June last year Malema called for supporters to take back land from white people because it was the property of “blacks”.
The charges were initially laid by civil rights group AfriForum, after Malema called on EFF supporters to occupy land in 2014 at the party’s elective conference in Bloemfontein.
In response to his comments, AfriForum filed a case against him for contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956 in November.
When he appeared in court, he reiterated the call for land occupation, telling supporters that “there are still pieces of land in KwaZulu-Natal whose title deeds are owned by the queen of London”.
Magistrate Theunis Christiaan Lotter Colditz granted Malema’s lawyer Tumi Mokoena’s request to postpone the matter to Thursday.
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.”
Malema has already been charged twice (in Newcastle and in Bloemfontein) under the Riotous Assemblies Act.
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.