South Africa's renegade ex-youth leader Julius Malema received large and questionable payments from businesses in his home province of Limpopo, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The 31-year-old reportedly benefited from a number of apparent kickbacks for public works contracts he helped award when he led the ANC's Youth League,the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said it had reviewed an audit of Malema's finances carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the National Treasury.

The firebrand politician was elected Youth League president in 2008 but was this year expelled from the ANC after he repeatedly made inflammatory remarks on a range of issues. The Youth League still supports him.

According to the Times, Malema's family trust received payments of about about R7.4 million over 36 months.

He claimed these were charitable donations but withdrew most of the money with a total of 168 cheques, the audit found.

“This is a very unusual practice, especially when one takes into account the fact that this is the bank account of a trust and not Mr Malema's personal account,” the audit states, according to the Times.

The money was enough for Malema to buy a farm, the Times reported, though amid mounting media attention, he later tried to shift the property into the name of a business run by his friend.

In an interview with the Times, Malema denied using the trust as a personal bank and denied buying a farm.

Limpopo province, which is a stronghold of support for Malema, was placed under almost total control by the state late last year due to suspicions of fraud. - AFP