CAPE TOWN, Tuesday
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has brought a case of treason against opposition leader Julius Malema after he threatened a violent overthrow of the government, the party’s spokesman said on Tuesday.
The move follows an interview Malema gave to Al-Jazeera television Sunday in which he said that if the government used violence to suppress protest “we will remove this government through the barrel of a gun”.
ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa announced on Twitter that the party had gone to police to lay a charge of treason against Mr Malema, leader of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
“The ANC has just opened a case of high treason against EFF and its leader Julius Malema in his personal capacity with Hillbrow police station,” Mr Kodwa confirmed to News24.
Earlier, the ANC released a statement saying Mr Malema’s remarks “are a call to violence, inflammatory, treasonable and seditious”.
In the interview, Malema said: “We will run out of patience very soon and we will remove this government through a barrel of a gun”.
OUSTER OF ZUMA
The EFF has been demanding the ouster of President Jacob Zuma for several months, accusing him of corruption.
EFF deputies regularly disrupt parliamentary sessions, sometimes shouting anti-Zuma slogans.
Last year, EFF MPs were expelled from the assembly by security guards after fights broke out.
“We are a very peaceful organisation, we fight our battles through peaceful means, through the courts, through parliament, through mass mobilisation, we do that peacefully,” Mr Malema told Al-Jazeera.
“But at times the government has attempted to respond to such with violence, they beat us up in parliament. They sent soldiers to places like Alexandra (township) where people are protesting.”
”These remarks are a call to violence, inflammatory, treasonable and seditious and should be treated with extreme seriousness,” said the ANC statement.
Mr Malema’s utterances “also are in clear violation of the Electoral Code and the Charter on Elections Ethics signed by a number of political parties - including the EFF, last week”, it said.
In signing the Charter, political parties committed themselves to upholding and promoting Constitutional values, alongside the Elections Code in the run-up to the August 3 local government elections.
The EFF leader, 35, was expelled from the ruling ANC in 2012 when he was head of the party’s youth wing.
A year later he founded the radical leftist EFF which entered parliament with 25 deputies after May 2014 elections, becoming the third largest party.