Posted on January 20, 2011

Malema Faces Steep Costs Order

Mail & Guardian (Cape Town), January 20, 2011

African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema might have to cough up as much as R120 000 to AfriForum for legal fees after the Equality Court made a costs order against him for Wednesday’s “shoot the boer” proceedings.

“My estimate is about R75 000 to R120 000,” said AfriForum lawyer Willie Spies on Thursday after proceedings centred on Malema’s legal team’s failure to file papers related to the case by the stipulated deadline.

Judge Collin Lamont made the order at the Equality Court, sitting at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg due to the national interest in the matter.

Spies said this estimate, for one senior and one junior counsel, still needed to finalised, but in terms of the potential costs of the matter overall it was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

“Two hours in court is just the ears of the hippo,” said Spies.

Asked to explain how that amount is reached, he said just one court appearance involved letters being sent out, calls being made, an advocate being appointed and paid for. Affidavits had to be drawn up, signed and served and then the advocate had to prepare for argument in court.

“It is not fair for us to pay costs occasioned by the respondent,” said Spies.

On Wednesday Lamont gave Malema and his lawyers until Monday to file papers related to the case.

They had missed a deadline at the end of November and not responded to correspondence reminding them of the deadline.

Malema’s advocate, Mahlaphe Sello, told the court the correspondence had been sent to the personal address instead of the business address of Malema’s attorney, Tumi Mokwena, and this was why they had not responded to any of AfriForum’s reminders and emails.

Default judgement

The matter is to go on trial on April 11 and Malema and his legal team still have a number of other deadlines to comply with. If he does not comply, AfriForum can apply for a default judgment and Malema’s side of the matter will not be aired in court.

Lamont felt it important to hear both sides of the story, hence the extension.

Malema’s lawyer, Mokwena, could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday or Thursday.

Spies said Malema was being pursued in the matter in his personal capacity, and not as head of the ANCYL.

Spies said this was because President Jacob Zuma had distanced himself from the remark in a public statement, so it felt the ANC’s view was already expressed, and there was no need to pursue the ANC or the league, which forms part of it.

However, Malema had said nobody could tell him what to say, so AfriForum decided to lay the charge of hate speech against him in his personal capacity.

In a separate case, the Sonke Gender Justice network is in the process of getting a court order against Malema for not paying a R50 000 fine and making a public apology over another hate speech case in the Equality Court.

This related to comments he made about the woman who laid a charge of rape against Zuma, who was later acquitted.