ANC NATIONAL executive member and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus is not concerned about the backlash he may receive from the ruling party for supporting former president Jacob Zuma at the Durban High Court on Friday.
“I am not worried about that‚” he said outside the courthouse where Zuma will appear on Friday on corruption charges. “I joined the ANC 40 years ago under the apartheid regime. I knew I could die. I know that comradeship is all about support. A soldier does not leave another soldier on the battlefield.
“I don’t care if anyone wants to have negativity against me and my fellow comrades that are with me at this court know that we are acting as people with background. We are not charlatans who simply go with the wind and all our jackets to be blown in the wind.”
Niehaus said he did not represent any organisation at the court.
“I am here as a comrade‚ a friend and a fellow soldier of comrade Jacob Zuma. Personally‚ when I was a political prisoner‚ the first leader that came to me was comrade Jacob Zuma. He came to me when I was in a difficult situation. Why should I not support him?”
Niehaus was concerned that the charges against Zuma dated back to “long ago and was then part of political manipulation”. He said the charges were part of a huge wave of negativity and character assassination taking place against Zuma.
Zuma is appearing on 16 charges that include fraud‚ corruption and racketeering.
These charges relate to 783 payments he allegedly received as a bribe to protect French arms company Thint from an investigation into the controversial multi-billion-rand arms deal. The alleged bribe was facilitated by Zuma’s former financial adviser‚ Schabir Shaik.
There was a high police presence in the court precinct in Durban early on Friday morning. Roads in the vicinity of the courthouse were closed from 6am.
Police warned that vehicles parked in the “action zone” would be towed away.
Hundreds of Zuma supporters are expected to arrive ahead of the former president’s appearance at 10am. They have already indicated defiance against the ruling party by wearing their ANC T-shirts.
Meanwhile, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema is expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday, where he is facing charges relating to his calls for illegal land occupation.
Malema faces charges of contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act after calling for land invasions.
In 2014, at the EFF elective conference in Bloemfontein, Malema told party members that they should occupy the land.
When appearing in court in Bloemfontein on those charges in 2016, he again told supporters who had gathered outside the court to take any “beautiful piece of land” they saw because it was taken from blacks “by genocide”.
Malema’s legal team is disputing the constitutionality of the Riotous Assembly Act. The EFF has accused the State of using “apartheid era laws” to try to silence its critics.
In a separate case, Malema appeared in the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court in July, on common law charges of incitement to commit a crime.
The charge sheet indicates that he is accused of trespassing in contravention of “Section 1(1) Read as Section 2(1) of Trespass Act 6 of 1959 as amended by Criminal Law Amendment Act 59 of 1983”.
In June 2016, Malema told supporters in Newcastle to occupy land because it belonged to blacks – whites could not claim ownership of land.
He appeared in the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court under the Riotous Assemblies Act and after the postponement, Malema stepped outside the court and told his supporters to “occupy the land because they have failed to give you the land”.
“If it means going to prison for telling you to take the land, so be it. I am not scared of prison because of the land question, but I am scared of prison if I go to prison for corruption. I don’t want to go to prison for corruption, but I want to go to prison for the land,” he said at the time.