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Johannesburg - Not so fast. That’s the message to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema from Gauteng traffic police, who warn that he may not be off the hook yet on a reckless and negligent driving charge.
The Vanderbijlpark Magistrate’s Court acquitted Malema on a speeding charge on Friday afternoon, but later that day the police announced they would challenge the ruling.
On Sunday Gauteng traffic police said that their plans were underway to appeal Malema's acquittal.
“We are definitely challenging the outcome,” said Gauteng traffic police spokesman Obed Sibasa.
“We have approached the (National Prosecuting Authority). We have started the move.”
Malema walked free when the court ruled that the State could not prove the camera used to nab him was in good working order.
He had been out on R5 000 bail after being arrested in December for allegedly driving at 215km/h in a 120km/h zone.
Sibasa said earlier that the case had not been handled properly – and that was mainly why they had decided to appeal against the ruling.
Said Sibasa: “My colleagues were at court for a different matter not for Malema’s case, as they were not subpoenaed. However, one was misled to take the stand in pretence of the defence or Malema going to plead and for the court to set down a trial date.”
In addition, the prosecutor in the trial was instructed by her seniors not to proceed as there was “confusion” over the reason for Malema’s appearance, claimed Sibasa.
“But the ill-prepared prosecutor defied (the instruction) and proceeded with the trial.”
But Malema shot down the traffic department’s version of what had transpired in court, maintaining his acquittal was above board.
“Why did they lead evidence if they were not ready? Why did they lead a witness, for that matter? The traffic officer who caught me testified,” an irate Malema said.
Media reports have identified David Phumudi as the officer who testified. He apparently told the court the speed camera was working properly and it was regularly tested.
Malema said his legal team used an argument that had secured another accused’s acquittal in the same court before his appearance.
Malema sat through the trial of this accused, who apparently argued that the camera was defective.
“The magistrate dismissed (the charges). My case was later heard. We used the same argument used in the earlier case. They are not appealing the earlier case, but they are appealing my case.
“It’s a politically motivated decision. The political principals are not happy with the outcome. They are interfering with the police. Let them appeal, they will be exposed.”
Sibasa said they “certainly have a watertight case” against Malema.
While the utterances of the Gauteng traffic department also appear to be raising issues about the competence of the prosecution team in the case, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube declined to comment.
Sunday Independent and Sapa