As EFF leaders Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Julius Malema appeared at the Randburg magistrate’s court on Wednesday on charges of common assault, South Africans following the trial couldn’t help but point out that they were represented by a white lawyer.
While this would not have been a talking point if the lawyer had been hired by other politicians, brand EFF is known for its views on promoting “black empowerment” and “black excellence”. Supporters say they were taken aback by Malema and Ndlozi’s move to hire a white lawyer.
Malema and Ndlozi stand accused of assaulting police officer Johannes Jacobus Venter at the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in 2018.
“When it comes to legal representation, Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi temporarily do not see colour, just inner beauty and merit and so on and so forth and stuff like that,” tweeted journalist Eusebius McKaiser on Wednesday.
Tumelo Warona wrote: “Malema and Ndlozi are in court being defended by white lawyers against their accuser, who also happens to be a white man? Whichever way you look at it, any outcome of this case will make a white person rich.”
Venter told the court that Malema and Ndlozi pushed him until he lost balance after he told them they could not enter the cemetery where Madikizela-Mandela would be buried. He said their vehicle did not have a permit. He also said the entrance was restricted for immediate family and the rest of the mourners would remain in the stadium where the proceedings would be streamed via satellite TV.
Advocate Laurence Hodes, a lawyer for Malema and Ndlozi, said he was in possession of a statement written by the late Zindzi Mandela, confirming that Malema could enter the cemetery. State prosecutor Michelle Hart said the statement could not be used in court as it was not made under oath. It can only be submitted as evidence.
The officer testified that the vehicle Malema and Ndlozi travelled in did not have a permit. When Hodes argued that it was there, Venter said he did not see it.
Hodes questioned the inconsistencies in Venter’s testimony and asked why he testified that Malema and Ndlozi had accreditation tags around their necks yet failed to provide that information in his statement. Venter attributed this to being in a state of shock.