Video footage showing Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) member Carl Niehaus addressing a crowd outside a prison in July resulted in the postponement of his criminal case.
Niehaus is on trial in the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court for contravening Covid-19 regulations.
During Friday’s court proceedings, the state played two video clips showing Niehaus interacting with the crowd and a journalist.
In the video, the journalist asked Niehaus whether he was not contravening Covid-19 regulation by addressing the crowd. Responding to the journalist, Niehaus said his view was that the regulations were being used “as a tool to muzzle” free speech.
At the time of his arrest, the country was under lockdown alert level 4, which prohibited gatherings.
Earlier, Niehaus’ advocate, Nthabiseng Mokoena, told the court that the MKMVA spokesperson had gone to the prison to meet Zuma, who was serving a 15 month sentence for disobeying a Constitutional Court order to appear before the Zondo Commission.
However, witnesses told the court that he had gone to the prison to launch the “Free Jacob Zuma” campaign.
After the clips were shown in court, Mokoena requested a postponement, saying the defence needed adequate time to interrogate the video footage.
Shortly after his arrest on July 8, police gave the MKMVA spokesperson the option to pay a fine, but he opted to challenge the matter in court.
A staunch Zuma supporter, Niehaus is part of the radical economic transformation ANC faction, which is opposed to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Since the beginning of Niehaus’ trial on Thursday, a group of MKMVA members have been in attendance.
Thami Majola, who claimed to be an MKMVA member based in Estcourt, said the former soldiers will not desert Niehaus.
“To those who are opposed to radical economic transformation, he is a bad person. But to us as MKMVA he is a disciplined soldier who refused to be cowed by those bent on reversing the gains of the liberation struggle,” he said.
Zuma is currently facing trial in connection with his role in the arms deal in the 1990s.
Addressing reporters outside court, Niehaus accused the ANC leadership of using law enforcement agencies to fight party internal battles.
“We still insist that Ramaphosa and the entire ANC national executive committee should go,” he said.
The Estcourt Magistrate’s Court postponed Niehaus’ case to May 16-17. The defence witnesses, which include members of the MKMVA who were with Niehaus when he was arrested, will take the stand over those two days.