Julius Malema fraud trial confirmed by South African court

Julius Malema at a court appearance, Johannesburg, 18 September Julius Malema says the charges against him are politically motivated

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South African opposition politician Julius Malema has lost his bid to have corruption charges dropped and is set to face trial next year.

The former ANC Youth League leader has been charged with fraud, money-laundering, and racketeering.

Judge Ephraim Makgoba set the trial to start on 30 September 2014.

He allegedly received some $392,000 (£240,000) from corrupt activities involving government deals - an accusation he denies.

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"

Hundreds of supporters of Mr Malema's new party, Economic Freedom Fighters, gathered at the Polokwane High Court, in Limpopo for the hearing.

The large crowd, carrying vuvuzelas (plastic horns) and clubs, chanted songs against President Jacob Zuma, reports say.

They sang "muso wa Zuma reya o menola", meaning "we will unseat Zuma's government", according to AFP.

The judge said Malema would stand trial along with his four co-accused - unless the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decides to withdraw the charges against Mr Malema.

The state alleges the five misrepresented themselves in order to secure a 52m rand ($5m; £3m) government contract.

But Mr Malema's legal team say that the charges against him have no basis and are politically motivated.

The long delay means the trial will not distract Mr Malema from campaigning for elections early next year, says the BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg.

Mr Malema's promises to redistribute South Africa's wealth have captured the imagination of many unemployed and disgruntled young people, a group the governing African National Congress has been battling to secure, our correspondent says.

He was expelled from the ANC in 2012 for sowing divisions in the party.

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