S Africa firebrand in fraud trial

Julius Malema before addressing a crowd of supporters in Soweto 27 September 2014Malema is a divisive and controversial politician; bitterly opposed to President Zuma whom he used to support

South African opposition party leader Julius Malema is due to go on trial to face corruption charges.

A former African National Congress (ANC) Youth Leader, Mr Malema is himself known for campaigning against corruption and focusing on South Africa’s black poor.

Mr Malema, 33, who was expelled from the governing ANC, is accused of fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.

He denies the allegations, which he says are politically motivated.

Mr Malema is accused of receiving some $392,000 (£240,000) from corrupt activities involving government deals.

Having lost his bid last year to have the charges against him dropped, the head of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) faces 700 charges of corruption and, if convicted, will lose his seat in parliament.

During presidential questions in August, Mr Malema made headlines for disrupting proceedings in parliament by leading chants of “Pay Back the Money” against President Jacob Zuma, accusing him of squandering $24m (£14.7m) of public money upgrading his home.

Julius Malema with supporters in Cape Town 21 September 2014Although popular Mr Malema has been convicted of hate speech and was expelled from the ANC

However he himself owes $1.6m (£985,173) in unpaid taxes.

Mr Malema formed the EFF following his expulsion from the ANC in 2012 after a bitter fall-out with President Zuma.

His political rise began at the age of 14 when he became the regional head for the ANC Youth League.

Working up the ranks, it was his appointment as the head of the ANC Youth League in 2008 that brought him to the forefront of the political scene.

His focus on South Africa’s black poor has won him thousands of supporters.

He launched the EFF in the midst of outrage surrounding the Marikana killings, where police shot dead 34 striking miners on 16 August 2012.