Prosecutor quits in Julius Malema’s firearm discharge case
Julius Malema's defence argued against any further postponement to accommodate the newly appointed prosecutor in the case.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema at Randburg magistrates court in Johannesburg on 10 March 2021. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and co-accused Adriaan Snyman’s illegal discharge of firearm case was postponed by a day in the East London Magistrate’s Court after the prosecutor resigned.
Malema faces five charges, including the unlawful possession of a firearm, for discharging a rifle at the EFF’s fifth anniversary celebrations at Sisa Dukashe Stadium, Mdantsane, in 2018. Snyman faces two charges.
The incident was captured on camera with the footage showing Malema allegedly discharging what appeared to be an automatic assault rifle during the celebrations.
The court heard that the new prosecutor, appointed to replace advocate Elna Smith, needed time to consult with witnesses and go through the evidence and statements.
The defence denounced the delays, opposing the state’s application for postponement. Malema’s legal representative advocate Lourence Hodes called for the case to be dismissed.
“Every accused has a right to a fair trial that sits and concludes without reasonable delay. Your worship, tomorrow is the 1st of March, this incident happened in July 2018 and the trial has not started.
“We had prepared, consulted and booked air tickets and accommodation. Everything has been arranged, and we have cleared our diaries for this week… an expert booked is also in court,” he said.
The defence, said Hodes, was alerted only on Friday about the changes regarding prosecutors.
He added that the state knew that Smith had resigned and should have made arrangements for her replacement in time. He asked the court to have the matter struck off the roll because of the state’s “unreasonable conduct”.
“It would be unfair to adjourn the case given how it is a politically charged matter. It took state more than a year before they could place this matter before the court.
“We have at least 135 statements… so it is not a simple case of just consulting today and proceeding tomorrow with a docket of this nature, its beyond his control that he finds himself in this situation, it’s not personal but it also unfair to compel the accused to wait,” said Hodes.
Snyman’s legal representative indicated to the court that he agreed with Hodes’ arguments, adding that he was not convinced that the new prosecutor would be ready to proceed soon.
“We find this unacceptable for the NPA to suddenly, days before trial, allegedly swap prosecutors. I find it sinister. If you are going to grant adjournment until tomorrow, I ask that there should be no further delays.”
The court postponed the case to Tuesday.
“This is the reality brought before the court this morning… I believe it is quite a large amount of documents in this case and won’t put any blaming here.
“The defence team is financially committed for this week, witnesses from as far as Pretoria are present here in court. The court will allow state to consult… let us all proceed tomorrow [Tuesday], I trust for the trial to commence,” the court ruled.