Julius Malema, a virulent critic and opponent of South African President Jacob Zuma, has reportedly received an arrest warrant charging him with corruption, fraud and money laundering.
Malema previously served as the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader, but was suspended from that position last year for a period of five years for having “sowed division” within the party.
Now, he is a fervent critic of President Zuma, whom Malema has criticized for apparently ignoring the needs of the country's vast army of poverty-stricken, unemployed black youth.
"We were told today [Friday] that there is an arrest warrant issued for Mr. Malema," Nicqui Galaktiou, Malema's attorney was quoted as saying to the City Press newspaper.
Galaktiou also told Reuters that Malema would appear in court in the city of Polokwane in his native Limpopo next week, but that he would not be jailed or arrested before then.
Continue Reading Below
“We don't have a confirmed date yet. We have not seen the warrant of arrest. We don't know what the charges are,” she said.
A powerful and incendiary orator, Malema is often described as a populist who advocates for radical economic reforms such as nationalizing South Africa’s mines and the seizing of white-owned farmland.
According to Galaktiou, a unit of the South Africa’s elite police force has been probing allegations against Malema for months.
When asked about the arrest warrant, Malema declared: “I have nothing to hide ... I only have my convictions. Nothing will stop me from fighting for economic freedom, not even my death ... We are unshaken.”
Milton Nkosi, a BBC correspondent in Johannesburg, said that Malema was known across South Africa for his lavish lifestyle, luxurious clothes, cars and homes.
But Malema has long denied charges of corruption.
Earlier Malema told a reporter: “I've never been involved in any corrupt activity but I wouldn't argue with the Hawks [unit of police force], if they say they've got a case for me to answer. I will wait for them the day they come to speak to me.”
Moreover, before the arrest warrant was even issued, Malema already announced that he had obtained intelligence from a “good authority” that Zuma would seek "to get rid of [him]," according to a report from the South African Press Association.
In response to the accusation, Zuma 's spokesperson Mac Maharaj responded: "The presidency is aware that this person [Malema] is prone to making wildly unsubstantiated and unwarranted claims and statements, and we do not wish to dignify them."
Ironically, Malema and President Zuma were once allies.
In fact, Malema played a key role in helping Zuma reach the pinnacle of power in the 2009 election. However, Malema apparently fell out of favor with the president shortly afterward.
Malema has been repeatedly accused of hate speech, for he is prone to offend various large sections of the society, such as women, white farmers and other racial groups.