The charges against Julius Malema are an attempt by government to silence the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)‚ the party said ahead of his appearance in court on Monday.
“The EFF has always been very critical of the government‚” said the party’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Malema is due to appear in the Newcastle Magistrate Court in northern KwaZulu-Natal amid a heavy police presence and a planned demonstration by party supporters.
He was served with a summons last month for contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act for allegedly urging supporters to invade land.
Ndlozi appeared not to be sure what the charges actually related to‚ but said he thought it might have to do with inciting people to invade the land.
“We had a rally here in June and he spoke about that‚” said Ndlozi.
He said the other charge also related to land invasion‚ a statement Malema uttered in 2014 during the party’s elective conference in Bloemfontein.
In June this year‚ Malema told supporters in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Newcastle that white people can’t claim ownership of land because it belongs to the country’s black African majority.
Malema told the EFF’s elective conference in Bloemfontein in 2014 that: “We are going to occupy the unoccupied land because we need the land. For us to eat‚ we must have the land. For us to work‚ we must have the land … I come from Seshego. If there is unoccupied land‚ we will go and occupy the land with my branch. You must go and do the same in the branch where you come from.”
At the time‚ AfriForum laid criminal charges against Malema.
Asked what was going to happen to Malema on Monday‚ Ndlozi said: “Look‚ it’s a first appearance and I do not think it is going to take the whole day not even few hours.”.
The party promoted the demonstration on social media over the weekend under the banner “Hand off our CIC Julius Malema”.