If EFF leader Julius Malema is found guilty of breaking an apartheid-era law he will face up to two years in prison.
Malema was served with two summonses during a press conference called by his party on Thursday.
He is charged with offences relating to a contravention of a provision of the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956 read with the Trespass Act of 1959. The provision states that any person who incites, instigates, commands or procures any other person to commit any offence will be guilty of an offence.
Malema hit back, accusing the state of launching an attack on its opponents.
“Those with alternative voices are being suppressed by state institutions, but with me they have met their match. I’m not scared of anything.
“We are not crybabies . we will fight these battles,” he said.
The charges, stemming from a complaint against Malema made by the NGO AfriForum, relate to two incidents in 2014 when the EFF leader was addressing his supporters.
The first relates to utterances allegedly made at the EFF’s elective conference in Mangaung, Bloemfontein.
Malema is said to have warned that he and members of his party would take over unoccupied land and his supporters should do the same.
The second charge relates to Malema speaking to supporters in Newcastle. He is alleged to have said that white people could not claim ownership of land because it belonged to the black majority.
Deputy president of the EFF Floyd Shivambu said the summonses were an attempt to intimidate Malema, who has given evidence in the public protector’s investigations of state capture.
AfriForum head of investigations Nantes Kelder welcomed the decision to prosecute Malema.
“This sends a strong message that there will be action against anyone who encourages crime,” said Kelder.
Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana said the summons served on Malema was political and appeared to be a means of silencing an opponent of President Jacob Zuma.
“The timing is questionable; a speech alone is not sufficient grounds to be charged.
“You don’t discourage land invasion by going for Malema. You ensure law enforcement on physical land invasions,” said Ndletyana.
Malema is due to appear in courts in Newcastle and Bloemfontein on November 7 and 14 respectively.