A mitigation hearing for ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and two other league members was adjourned on Monday afternoon, the ANC said.

“We can say that the hearing has been adjourned, but we cannot confirm whether it will continue tomorrow,” said African National Congress spokesman Keith Khoza.

Six hours were set aside on Monday to allow Malema, his spokesman Floyd Shivambu, and the league's secretary general Sindiso Magaqa an opportunity to argue in mitigation of their suspension from the ruling party.

Khoza said he could not provide details on the applications brought by ANCYL leadership during the hearing.

Earlier in the day, ANC national disciplinary committee chairman Derek Hanekom said the ruling party would also be allowed to argue its case during the hearing.

“The sitting will also receive arguments for aggravating circumstances from the ANC as per the decision of the NDCA (national disciplinary committee of appeals) ... the ANC's aggravating argument will also be allocated two hours in total,” he said in a statement.

On Sunday, during a closed session of the ANCYL's lekgotla, Malema told delegates he had received a letter from the committee only on Saturday informing him, Shivambu, and Magaqa, that they had to be at the mitigation proceedings.

Hanekom denied this, saying the NDC and the youth league met on Wednesday, February 08, in a pre-hearing conference and agreed on the date for the mitigation and aggravating arguments.

“Secondly, we want to place on record that formal letters were sent to each individual on Thursday, February 09 to confirm the sitting,” Hanekom said.

He said the NDC wanted to correct “misleading” statements that the ANCYL leaders were charged for calling for the nationalisation of mines, expropriation of land, and “economic freedom”.

“At no stage were these issues a factor in the current cases. Any argument suggesting that the hearings at any stage had anything to do with these issues is devoid of any truth.”

Last Saturday, the ANC's appeals committee announced that attempts by Malema, Shivambu, Magaqa, and three other ANCYL officials to have the guilty verdicts against them overturned were dismissed.

They were found guilty in November last year of bringing the ANC into disrepute and of sowing division in the party.

This was after they made comments about regime change in Botswana, undermined Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba's authority, insulted a journalist, and compared President Jacob Zuma unfavourably to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki. - Sapa