EFF leader Julius Malema speaking outside the state capture commission where Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan was testifying. File picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN - EFF leader Julius Malema on Monday said he would bring corruption charges against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan after the minister pressed charges and filed a defamation suit against him and his deputy Floyd Shivambu for their attacks on his family.

Malema's threat to open a case at Brooklyn police station in Pretoria was made via Twitter, a few hours after Gordhan laid charges of criminal defamation against him and Shivambu at the same charge office.

The minister said the EFF went too far when it targeted his family and appeared to threaten to unleash instability.

“The determined defence of corruption and the corrupt, using personal attacks, racism and alleged hate speech is not acceptable and must be challenged," Gordhan said, as he announced he would seek R150 000 in damages.

“I have not responded until now to the absolute nonsensical and unsubstantiated attacks, but extending these attacks to my family and threatening harmony amongst the people of South Africa was a step too far. Enough is enough.” 

The ministry said Gordhan has asked the court to determine whether Malema's utterances constitute hate speech, and is demanding an unconditional apology plus the damages, which he would, if successful, donate to a charity that supports job creation for the youth.

He has asked the police to determine whether it amounted to incitement to violence and also laid a charge of criminal defamation.

"The SAPS is also being asked to consider whether the public statements constitute incitement to violence in so far as it was stated by Malema on 20 November 2018, that '… there will be causalities. There can even be a loss of life [sic]. If you’re not ready for that stand aside…"

Malema and the EFF last week repeatedly made allegations that Gordhan's daughter had done business with the state. The attack came while the minister was testifying before the Zondo commission of inquiry on state capture. Malema went as far as calling the minister a "dog" in service of white-owned businesses.

Gordhan has refuted the allegations against his daughter Anisha, but the EFF repeated its claims at the weekend.

"Minister Gordhan regards various public utterances and statements by Mr Malema and Mr Shivambu to constitute contraventions of Section 10 of the Equality Act in that these were clearly intended to be hurtful, incite harm and promote hatred and thus constitute hate speech, as contemplated by the act," the ministry said.

“It is time for all South Africans to take a firm stand against racism, lies and fake news and contribute to the building of a united, non-racial and non-sexist democratic South Africa. All of us as South Africans must continue to fight corruption in the private sector and in the State."

According to the EFF, their charges against Gordhan would include fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering. 

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa voiced support for Gordhan.

Without naming anybody, Ramaphosa said those attacking Gordhan were "deeply embedded in what was going wrong in our country". 

EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi suggested in a tweet that Gordhan was tainted because of the length of time that he served as finance minister under former president Jacob Zuma.

* Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535.

African News Agency (ANA)