South Africa's Julius Malema "unshaken" by court charge

The BBC's Andrew Harding describes "extraordinary scenes" outside Julius Malema's court appearance

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South Africa's firebrand politician Julius Malema has told supporters he is "unshaken" after being charged in court with money laundering.

Addressing an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds outside the court in Polokwane, Mr Malema vowed to continue his fight for "economic freedom".

The case against him relates to a government tender awarded to a company partly owned by his family trust.

Mr Malema, who has been granted bail, says the case is politically motivated.

There was a heavy police presence outside the court from early in the morning, and long stretches of barbed wire fencing were put in place.

Mr Malema in court Mr Malema turned round to greet his supporters in court

Hundreds of supporters danced and sang songs denouncing President Zuma as they awaited Mr Malema's appearance.

Many held up placards saying "Hands off our leader".

He is accused of using his former position as the leader of the ANC's Youth League to enrich himself and his business partners.

'What you see is what you get'

The BBC's Andrew Harding, outside court, says it had been widely anticipated that Mr Malema would face a broader raft of charges - including corruption and fraud.

Who is Julius Malema?

  • Born 3 March 1981 in Limpopo province
  • Mother was domestic worker and single parent
  • Joined ANC aged nine and elected leader of its youth wing in April 2008
  • Convicted of hate speech in March 2010 and September 2011
  • Expelled from ANC in April 2012 for sowing divisions in party
  • Toured mines following the shooting of 34 miners in Marikana by police in August 2012, urging workers to make the sector "ungovernable"

The single charge came as a surprise to his supporters, and adds weight to the view of some that the case against him has been rushed, our correspondent says.

The court appearance comes less than a week after a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Bail was set at 10,000 rand (£750). He is next due in court on November 30 in order to give the prosecution time to prepare their case.

Nine others have been charged alongside Mr Malema.

Emerging from court, Mr Malema said "what you see is what you get".

He then announced that he intended to visit a mine on Thursday in order to push for a wage strike.

He has been vocal in urging workers to make the mining sector "ungovernable" following the shooting of 34 miners in Marikana province by police in August.

Julius Malema is well-known in South Africa for his fiery populist rhetoric and lavish lifestyle, describing himself as an economic freedom fighter.

The 31-year-old politician was thrown out of the ANC in April, accused of sowing divisions in the party.

He is a fierce critic of his former ally, Jacob Zuma, recently attacking the president over his handling of the Marikana miners' strikes.

Mr Malema is also the subject of a separate tax investigation.

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