Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Jules Malema and co-defendant Adriaan Snyman’s illegal firearms discharge case was adjourned for a day at London Magistrates’ Court after the prosecutor resigned.
Malema faces five counts, including unlawful possession of a firearm, for discharging a rifle during EFF’s fifth anniversary celebrations at Sisa Dukashe Stadium, Mdantsane in 2018. Snyman faces on two counts.
The incident was captured on footage showing Malema firing what appeared to be an automatic assault rifle during the celebrations.
The court heard that the new prosecutor, appointed to replace attorney Elna Smith, needed time to consult with witnesses and review evidence and statements.
The defense denounced the delays, opposing the state’s request for a postponement. The lawyer for Malema’s legal representative, Lourence Hodes, asked that the case be dismissed.
“Every accused has the right to a fair trial which takes place and ends within a reasonable time. Your Honor, tomorrow is March 1st, this incident happened in July 2018 and the trial has not started.
“We had prepared, consulted and booked the plane tickets and accommodation. Everything has been arranged and we have cleared our diaries for this week…a reserved expert is also in court,” he said.
The defense, Hodes said, was not alerted to the prosecutorial changes until Friday.
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He added that the state knew Smith had resigned and should have arranged for his replacement in time. He asked the court to strike the case out of the docket because of “unreasonable conduct” by the state.
“It would be unfair to adjourn the case given that it is a politically charged case. It took more than a year for the state to be able to take this case to court.
“We have at least 135 statements…so it’s not just a matter of consulting today and proceeding tomorrow with a file of this nature, it’s out of his control that he finds himself in this situation, it’s not It’s not personal but it’s also unfair to force the defendant to wait,” Hodes said.
Snyman’s legal representative told the court he agreed with Hodes’ arguments, adding that he was not convinced the new prosecutor would be ready to proceed soon.
“We find it unacceptable that the NPA suddenly changed prosecutors a few days before the trial. I find it sinister. If you grant the adjournment until tomorrow, I ask that there be no further delay.
The court adjourned the case to Tuesday.
“That’s the reality before the court this morning…I believe there’s quite a lot of material in this case and I won’t lay any blame here.
“The defense team has committed financially for this week, witnesses from as far away as Pretoria are present here in court. Court will allow state to consult…let’s all proceed tomorrow [Tuesday]I hope the trial will start,” the court said.
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