Former South African National Congress youth league leader, Julius Malema is on Wednesday expected to appear in court facing several allegations of fraud, in a trial that has gripped the imagination of the world’s media.
Malema faces charges of fraud and money-laundering relating to a tender awarded to On-Point to build infrastructure and roads in Limpopo province, some observers see the charges as politically motivated.
Malema was issued with an arrest warrant on Friday and was expected to appear in court Tuesday, but the National Prosecution Authority was yet to complete the charge sheet.
Several police officers have been in Polokwane ahead of the court appearance of the former ANC Youth League president.
Meanwhile, Malema’s co-accused in the case handed themselves over to the police on Tuesday before their court appearance.
The State alleged that the four misrepresented themselves to the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport, and were awarded a 52 million rand contract.
The four business associates were granted bail of R40,000 each.
Several police officers were stationed inside the court and according to reports, the courtroom was packed to capacity with reporters, photographers and curious onlookers.
Outside the court, the police cordoned off streets around the courthouse.
Police said they wanted to be prepared for a planned night vigil for Malema, and to ensure people were safe, he said.
On-Point Engineers CEO Lesiba Gwangwa appeared on charges of tender fraud, with other Limpopo businessmen and government officials.
According to reports, the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said Malema made millions from the 52 million rand tender by On-Point.
Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust is one of two shareholders in On-Point.
Although Madonsela could not find any evidence that Malema interfered in the tender process, she found that he benefited “improperly” from the contract.
Friends of the Youth League, a group supporting the youth leader said that it was expecting senior ANC members to join Malema’s supporters outside the court on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, an ANC Youth League leader told a local radio station that its members were being encouraged to attend Malema’s court appearance, but it had made no formal arrangements. Most people see the charges as politically motivated against the youth leader.