Limpopo - Julius Malema took the stand in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on Thursday morning.
Malema faces money laundering and racketeering charges in connection with the controversial multimillion-rand contract, awarded by the Limpopo government to the company On-Point Engineering in 2009.
Malema, after being called to the stand, refused to take the oath and was not asked to enter a plea.
By the time of publication Malema had begun to testify about his political career, saying he had joined the Struggle at the age of nine and that he was trained by Umkhonto weSizwe comrades internally.
“I don’t know any other life, except politics,” said Malema, who recently indicated that he would be launching his own political party.
On Wednesday night, in anticipation of his court appearance, police camped outside the courthouse.
Major streets in the court precinct were cordoned off from as early as 8pm.
The busiest streets near the court, Landros Mare Street at its intersection with Thabo Mbeki Street, had been closed to traffic overnight.
The intersection of Bodenstein and Schoeman streets was also closed.
At about 7.15am, two armoured police vehicles and at least 10 police cars were parked in the vicinity of the court, where Malema and five others were due to appear.
The masses that came to support Malema during his first two appearances last year, were not present on Thursday morning.
On April 23 a handful of fans had shown up.
No night vigil was held on Wednesday night.
The expelled ANCYL leader was first arrested in September last year and charged with money laundering.
He was arrested with On-Point Engineering director and former business associate Lesiba Gwangwa, another company director Kagisho Dichabe, Limpopo businessman Selbie Manthata, his wife Hellen and brother Makgetsi.
Malema is accused of making nearly R4 million from corrupt activities.
The State alleges they misrepresented themselves to the Limpopo Roads and Transport Department, leading to a R52m contract being awarded to On-Point Engineering.
According to court papers, Malema had business ties with Gwangwa, a director of On-Point Engineering.
Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust was an indirect shareholder in On-Point.
The department paid the company R43m. According to the charge sheet, Malema benefited substantially from this payment, using it to buy a multimillion-rand farm and a Mercedes-Benz.
Malema allegedly did this knowing that the money formed part of the proceeds of crime.
All five have proclaimed their innocence.
Malema was released on R10 000 bail and the rest were released on R40 000 bail each. They face fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering charges.
A charge of racketeering was added to Malema’s case during his second appearance in November.
The Star and Sapa