Malema admits to owning gun as a teenager: ‘I had a firearm when I was 17, 18’

Malema admits to owning gun as a teenager: ‘I had a firearm when I was 17, 18’

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says he used to own a gun when he was “17 or 18 years old”, during his days as the president of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas).

Malema was speaking in the East London Regional Court on Wednesday afternoon, where he and his bodyguard Adriaan Snyman are on trial for allegedly discharging a firearm in public during the EFF’s fifth-anniversary celebrations at Mdantsane’s Sisa Dukashe Stadium in 2018.

‘My life was in danger,’ says Malema

“I had a firearm when I was almost 17, 18, when I was actually not qualified by age. But because I was the president of the Congress of South African Students and my life was in danger, the ANC had to write a special motivation as to why I should carry a firearm at that age,” Malema told the court.

Cosas, an affiliate of the ANC, is a school-going pupils’ organisation, meaning Malema owned and carried a gun when he was still in high school. And according to South Africa’s firearm laws, only competent people aged 21 years or older may apply for, and possess a gun licence. One also has to be a South African citizen or a holder of a permanent South African residence permit.

“But since I became the president of the [ANC] Youth League and now EFF, there has never been a need for me to carry a firearm because I’ve always had protectors with me.”

MALEMA: I had a firearm when I was almost 17, 18, when I was actually not qualified by age, but because I was the President of the Congress of South African students and my life was in danger, the ANC had to write a special motivation as to why I should carry a firearm at that…

— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 19, 2024

However, Paul Oxley, chairman and CEO of Gun Owners SA, tells The South African that technically, an age limit for gun ownership does not exist.

“There’s no age limit to gun ownership itself. The impediment is on competence.

“Without competence, you may not be issued a licence to possess a firearm. And under normal circumstances, you can’t get competence under 21years.

“However, if you are a dedicated sportsperson or hunter, or a professional hunter, you can get competence from as young as 10 years old. But it has to be thoroughly motivated,” said Oxley.

Malema, who is licensed gun owner, also stressed he was fit to own a firearm.

“I am a very good, competent person, and not disqualified by any court to carry a firearm,” said Malema.

Speaking directly to the events of that day in Mdantsane, Malema flatly denied that he had fired a real gun, insisting it was a toy.

“I’ve never had any ammunition on that day. I’ve never used a gun that carries live ammunition. I’ve never carried a gun that day,” Malema said while being cross-examined by the defence.

[WATCH] EFF leader Julius Malema says he did not use a gun with live ammunition on the day he is accused of discharging a firearm at the party’s 5th birthday celebration in 2018.#Newzroom405 pic.twitter.com/6ooe1SGwO5

— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) June 19, 2024

“No single person came forward and to say I have endangered their life. Your Worship, which case am I answering here?” Malema asked Magistrate Twanet Olivier, with whom he’s clashed with in the past.

Malema’s past clash with Magistrate Twanet Olivier

Last year, Malema tried and failed to get the case struck off the roll, and lambasted her for supposed tardiness.

“We will come back after the elections to sit and listen to that incompetent magistrate who comes late to court, who can’t get her papers in order, who can’t read her own judgements, who adjourned the court during judgement to go backseat and receive Pravin Gordon’s calls, Ramaphosa’s calls to receive [National] Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila] Batohi’s call.

“When she comes back to give judgment, she’s shaking like hell because it’s not her own judgment but a sponsored judgment,” Malema said. He provided no evidence to back up these assertions.

Case continues on Thursday

For its part, the state contends that Malema fired a gun with live ammunition on the day, endangering people’s lives.

And on Wednesday afternoon, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson for the Eastern Cape, Luxolo Tyali, told Newzroom Afrika that the state would be cross-examining the EFF leader on Thursday.

Tyali also dismissed Malema’s attempts to poke holes in the state’s case.

“The strategy that the investigating team took in investigating the case, was not supposed be dictated by the defence. All they [investigators] wanted was evidence that would be able to stand the test of the court and that happened… which is why the court didn’t grant them the [section] 174 application [dismissal of the case],” said Tyali.