Malema's defence asks court not to jail the EFF leader for free speech

Malema's defence asks court not to jail the EFF leader for free speech

- Julius Malema appeared in a Pretoria High Court today to face criminal charges pertaining to comments made regarding land reform

- The defence had argued that the laws in question were put in place by the apartheid era government to oppress its critics

- The NPA had said that while the EFF leader had every right to discuss land reform, incitement to illegally occupy land was unacceptable

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Julius Malema’s legal defence said that the EFF leader had not broken any laws by calling for the occupation of vacant land, and thus should not serve jail time for utilising his right to free speech.

This was during the hearing at a Pretoria High Court on Wednesday. The defence said that the government is utilizing apartheid-era laws to suit its own needs in modern times.

The Economic Freedom Fighter leader asked the court to declare sections of the Riotous Assemblies Act as well as the Trespassing Act unconstitutional and to set aside the NPA’s charges against him in three separate cases.

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The party maintained the the laws are outdated and had been utilized in the ‘60s to prosecute liberation fighters. The EFF accused the ANC government of using the act to silence critics.

Julius Malema was facing charges relating most notably to incidents in 2014 and 2016 when he had encouraged land grabs as well as saying that land belonged to the black majority and that whites could not claim ownership of the land in question.

He had encouraged supporters to take land as they saw fit because it had forcefully been taken from then by ‘genocide’ and that he was not afraid to face prison over the land issue.

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Advocate Tembeka Ngukaitobi had argued in the EFF’s defence that the 1956 Act had been a part of the apartheid segregation policy and had been used as a tool of oppression meant to suppress opposition and therefore had no place in South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

He maintained that Malema was not facing prison time for having harmed anyone but rather for speaking about his party’s policy that empty land should be taken by the landless.

Brian Epstein on behalf of the NPA had argued that while it was Malema’s right to challenge the slow process of bringing about land reform but that he should not have enticed others to illegally occupy and invade land.

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