Speaker of Parliament Thandi Modise said she had deliberately kept quiet about the animal cruelty case against her.
Modise was speaking to her supporters outside the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday after an appearance.
Lobby group AfriForum is accusing her of leaving her farm in the North West unattended, causing the death of more than 50 pigs and other animals, including geese, ducks, sheep and goats in 2014.
Modise said she had been closely watching all the roleplayers in the case and believed the delays in the matter were deliberate in order to weaken her chances of winning the matter.
“They drag it (the case) until you know that you cannot afford lawyers and you have to stand by yourself. It is deliberately being dragged out, but we come from Umkhonto [we Sizwe]. We were taught patience, discipline. So, that discipline is still there, it will persevere. We will conquer,” said the former North West premier.
She thanked her supporters, who came out in numbers, some clad in ANC MK veteran regalia, saying she was “strong” because of their presence in the court.
The head of AfriForum’s private prosecuting unit, advocate Gerrie Nel, informed the court sitting before Magistrate Ben Mtebele that the matter was ready to go to trial. He said pre-trial issues had been resolved and the unit would hand over a case docket to the defence.
Nel said provisional trial dates had been set for March 24-26 next year. The dates are provisional as Modise’s defence, Wesley Vittee, said his client would soon receive a schedule and timetable of her duties for the first term of the National Assembly next year.
Vittee said, should the speaker not be in a position to attend court on the set dates, the court would be informed and another date secured for the trial to start.
AfriForum investigator Elias Maangwale said it was all systems go for the unit and that investigations were complete. He said the unit was confident in its case.
Meanwhile, Modise’s supporters said they believed that the charges against their leader were “based on patriarchy”.
“These charges are trumped up… and the fact that a black woman cannot be a farmer. They are politically directed and influenced.
“We know that she is innocent and we know there were shenanigans that went on on that farm because of political influence, and that there were people who wanted the farm and wanted to pressurise her to leave,” military veteran and ex-political prisoner Reverend Raymond Elisha said.
The supporters vowed to continue their support, saying they would mobilise when Modise appeared again.