Corruption Sans Frontières: Supreme Court of Appeal teaches Malema an important lesson about lying & corruption

Julius Malema received a smackdown from the Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday in his R1-million defamation case against former top EFF member Thembinkosi Rawula.

Four Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judges made short shrift of Julius Malema’s “bald denials” this week when the court held that it would not declare former EFF member Thembinkosi Rawula’s Facebook post – in which he accused Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, of using EFF funds for their personal benefit – to be unlawful and defamatory.

Based on two corroborating affidavits and without the benefit of any explanation from Malema, the SCA found that he “apparently had no difficulty in accepting funds that were the subject of corruption as an opportunity for the EFF to be in government”.

Said media lawyer Dario Milo: “The SCA held that an interdict could not be granted because Rawula had laid a foundation for a defence of truth to be asserted.”

The court decided that Rawula’s version of events “wasn’t so far-fetched as to be rejected”, albeit that the court did not go so far as saying Rawula’s statements were indeed true, Milo continued.

During his argument, Malema’s counsel dropped his claim for R1-million in damages as well as the demand for a retraction and apology and an interdict against further publication of the Facebook post.

What was left for the court to decide was Malema’s demand to declare Rawula’s Facebook post unlawful and defamatory.

In a majority judgment written by Judge Ashton Schippers, this, too, was dismissed.

Rawula used to serve on the EFF’s highest decision-making body, the Central Command Team (CCT), he represented the party in Parliament and was the national chairperson of the EFF’s National Disciplinary Committee. He sat in a privileged position, the court found, that made him privy to information that few people could access.

The beginnings of the court saga date back to February 2019, when Rawula baulked at Malema’s attempt to draw the EFF leadership into a “collective responsibility” for receipt of stolen VBS money. At a meeting, Malema explained to the CCT that he, Shivambu and the EFF did indeed receive loot from VBS Mutual Bank, Rawula claimed.

Malema’s reason for accepting the VBS money, Rawula said, was “to support the revolution”.

(VBS Bank was defrauded by its managers, lawyers and auditors, as well as ANC and EFF politicians and politically linked businesspeople between 2015 and 2018.)

The SCA found, notably, that Malema must have known the money was the proceeds of crime because he attempted to hide its source by employing money laundering tactics.

Rawula’s extraordinary accusation was confirmed, under oath, by Zolile Rodger Xalisa, an EFF MP.

In a handwritten affidavit, Xalisa said Malema, at a CCT meeting, “made an admission that the EFF had received donations from VBS which is the subject of corruption. He said that no capitalist or government is willing to support a revolutionary movement like EFF so VBS saw an opportunity that the EFF could be in government, it could assist to ensure that it thrives better.”

Even more interestingly, Xalisa stated that Malema “confirmed that they could not receive the donation with [the] EFF account of theirs (him and Floyd Shivambu) but had to devise other means, he said sometimes you must kiss dogs or the devil to get money…”

Malema then wanted the entire CCT to take “collective responsibility” for receiving the VBS loot.

On 5 April 2019, Rawula published a Facebook post in which he accused Malema and Shivambu of being corrupt, of laundering money and of contravening a cardinal pillar of the EFF’s constitution – fighting for an anti-corrupt society.

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