South Africa’s Malema faces trust fund investigation


South African police they were investigating a trust fund at the centre of corruption allegations run by influential politician Julius Malema, who heads the Youth League of the ruling African National Congress.

Malema has denied any wrongdoing and says the fund is a charity that supports different causes.
“We are obtaining the crucial information we would need. It is about allegations of corruption around the trust fund,” McIntosh Polela, spokesman for an elite police unit known as the Hawks, told Reuters.

Polela said police were collecting information to see if further investigation was required but declined to say what avenues they were pursuing. The Sunday Times newspaper reported the police had approached banks and cellphone companies for Malema’s records.

Malema’s racially-charged appeals to the poor black majority have raised concerns among investors about whether the ANC will take up his calls for an overhaul of Africa’s largest economy.

Corruption is a major concern in South Africa. A police raid last week on the mines department and a firm linked to President Jacob Zuma’s son has highlighted allegations that political connections are used to amass wealth.

As ANC Youth League leader, Malema has no direct policymaking power. But the League, co-founded by Nelson Mandela, has long been a training ground for the leadership, and he is an influential powerbroker.

Malema, 30, once again denied allegations of graft and wrongdoing on Sunday. “From where I am sitting I am comfortable and I don’t need a bribe … There was nothing I was hiding from the trust,” he was quoted as saying by the South African Press Association. “I’m not scared of jail. You can arrest me, but you can’t arrest my ideas.”

Several newspapers carried separate stories on Sunday detailing new allegations about the lavish lifestyle and property deals of Malema, who has called for mines to be nationalised and white-owned farms to be seized.

The City Press newspaper said last week that the trust fund financed Malema’s lifestyle including through kick-backs for help in securing government contracts. Malema, who was born into poverty, lists as a main source of income his salary as the head of the Youth League, which is a few thousand dollars a month.

Malema had denied the trust was used for receiving bribes and said media reports probing his finances were “the imaginations of right-wing, narrow-minded and obsessed white people”.