Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema is expected to hand himself to authorities following a warrant of arrest issued in connection with alleged fraud, understood to be linked to the poor delivery of textbooks to pupils in Limpopo.
Malema would probably meet law enforcement authorities on Monday, and would be asked to make a statement, a highly-placed source close to the case has told Weekend Argus.
Malema has also been the subject of a long-standing criminal investigation into his Ratanang Family Trust and the role of On-Point Engineering, the focus of allegations of dodgy tenders in Limpopo.Meanwhile, one of Malema’s lawyers, Nicqui Galaktiou of Brian Kahn Inc. Attorneys, confirmed her client was contacted about the arrest warrant, and that he would make a statement at the court in Polokwane next week.
“We don’t know which court and when it will happen, but we are engaging with authorities on that. It will be in Polokwane,” she told Sapa.
“My understanding is that he won’t be arrested,” she said, adding that charges against her client were unknown as “we don’t have a copy of the warrant”.
The issuing of a warrant for the arrest of Malema follows an investigation by the anti-corruption task team into a three-year tender awarded in 2010 to EduSolutions, to distribute textbooks to Limpopo pupils. The task team brings together the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), SA Revenue Service (Sars) and the elite police unit the Hawks.
The source told Weekend Argus more warrants of arrest had been issued in the same case - for officials from the Limpopo Education Department.
The Limpopo textbook saga has rocked the government - Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said during the ANC June policy conference, “It is a matter of shame.”
It followed the discovery of dumped textbooks near a dam at Giyani, despite a textbook delivery schedule agreed in court. The national Basic Education Department remains under pressure.
It appears not all pupils have all their books, while questions have been raised over the catch-up plan by Section27, the NGO which took the department to court. Another court challenge is looming. Malema’s high-flyer lifestyle has also attracted the attention of Sars.
The Ratanang Family Trust has a stake in On-Point Engineering. Media reports have drawn a picture of interlinked companies headed by friends and allies. And in July 2011 the DA asked the Public Protector to investigate tender irregularities involving deposits made into Malema’s family trust by various people who allegedly later won tenders.
It is the second time the Public Protector is looking at Malema’s financial dealings, after finding there was no conclusive evidence of wrong-doing over tenders awarded to SGL engineering, to which Malema was linked for a time.
The arrest warrant is no surprise to Malema. On Tuesday he told reporters any move to arrest him would be “illegal”. “I’ve got no case to answer,” he had said. “If we are illegally arrested tomorrow, we would have been arrested by (President) Jacob Zuma.”
Yesterday political analyst Prince Mashele said the news was no real surprise.
The fact that Malema has been for some time on the wrong side of the politics of the ANC is a factor to be considered… Of late he has been irritating the powers that be.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks would not confirm the issuing of the warrant for Malema.
“The Hawks don’t issue warrants, so we don’t comment on that,” said spokesman McIntosh Polela. Asked about a possible arrest, he said: “Even if we were planning to arrest him, we won’t tell you.”
Afrikaner civil rights lobby AfriForum welcomed the warrant of arrest. On July 24 it laid a charge of corruption against Malema under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. It alleged Malema used the Ratanang Family Trust to obtain payments from business people.
“Malema made a serious error in judgement by thinking that he is untouchable,” AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel said yesterday.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said, “The public are sick and tired of politically-connected individuals abusing public procurement to line their own pockets.”