S Africa firebrand trial postponed

Julius Malema before addressing a crowd of supporters in Soweto 27 September 2014Julius Malema is a divisive politician, who spectacularly fell out with former ally President Zuma

The trial of South African opposition party leader Julius Malema on corruption charges has been postponed until next year.

An ex-African National Congress youth leader, Mr Malema is himself known for campaigning against corruption and focusing on poor South Africans.

Mr Malema, 33, who was expelled from the governing ANC, is accused of fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.

He denies the allegations, which he says are politically motivated.

Mr Malema is accused of receiving some $392,000 (£240,000) from corrupt activities involving government deals.

Having lost his bid last year to have the charges against him dropped, the head of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) faces 700 charges of corruption and, if convicted, will lose his seat in parliament.

An Economic Freedom Fighters' supporter sings and dances as he attends a vigil in support of the party's leader Julius Malema on the eve of his trial on charges of corruption on September 29, 2014 in Polokwane.Mr Malema’s supporters held an all-night vigil outside court

Security was tight outside court in the northern town of Polokwane, where his supporters had staged an overnight vigil.

The case has now been postponed until 3 August 2015 because not all the lawyers were available for the trial.

During presidential questions in August, Mr Malema made headlines for disrupting proceedings in parliament by leading chants of “Pay Back the Money” against President Jacob Zuma, accusing him of squandering $24m (£14.7m) of public money upgrading his home.

He and the other EFF MPs now face disciplinary action for such “unparliamentary behaviour”.

The party’s 25 MPs often wear red overalls in parliament to symbolise their solidarity with workers.

Mr Malema formed the EFF following his expulsion from the ANC in 2012 after a bitter fall-out with President Zuma.

His political rise began at the age of 14 when he became the regional head for the ANC Youth League.

Working up the ranks, it was his appointment as the head of the ANC Youth League in 2008 that brought him to the forefront of the political scene.

His focus on South Africa’s black poor has won him thousands of supporters.

He launched the EFF in the midst of outrage surrounding the killings in Marikana, where police shot dead 34 striking miners on 16 August 2012.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29422140#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa