Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP |
South Africa’s defiant opposition leader Julius Malema made a fresh push on Monday for the seizure of white-owned land by blacks, despite charges against him over similar calls.
Just after appearing in court over land grab claims he made in June, Malema again urged supporters to take any ground they wanted.
“When a state has failed to give you the land for the past 22 years, it will be irresponsible for me to say continue waiting, that’s why I say occupy the land,” Malema told around 300 supporters outside the court.
Malema’s leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party has garnered growing public support by campaigning for South Africa’s deep inequality to be tackled through land expropriation.
He said on Monday that whites had “been too comfortable for too long” and it was time to take action in a country where much of the wealth remains in white hands, more than 20 years after the end of apartheid.
“They have been living peacefully. They have been swimming in a pool of privilege, they have been enjoying themselves because they always owned our land.
“We are here unashamedly to disturb the white men’s peace because we have not known peace, we don’t know what peace looks like,” he said outside court in the southeastern town in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
In June Malema told his supporters: “If you see a piece of land and you like it, don’t apologise, go and occupy that land. That land belongs to us.”
He has been charged with contravening anti-riot laws and incitement to trespass.
Malema also faces prosecution for similar statements on land appropriation made in 2014, but has yet to appear in court on that case.
“We will take our land, it doesn’t matter how. It’s becoming unavoidable, it’s becoming inevitable — the land will be taken by whatever means necessary,” he said on Monday.
“We are the rightful owners, our peace was disturbed by white men’s arrival.”
The fiery Malema said was not fazed by the prospects of being jailed for telling black people to illegally occupy 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.”
The court on Monday postponed the case to May 5, after his lawyer Tumi Mokoena asked for time to apply to the High Court to declare a section of the anti-riot law, unconstitutional.