A possible 15 years in jail for assault rifle 'shooting' – has Malema EFFed up?
EFF leader Julius Malema will certainly have to appear in court for allegedly discharging an assault rifle in a public space and may face jail time of a minimum of 15 years, says a leading legal expert specialising in firearms law who spoke to News24 on the condition of anonymity.
"The NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) will have to prosecute Malema because there is a prima facie case."
According to the lawyer, Malema will most likely be arrested, processed and appear in court.
In a video that News24 published on Tuesday, Malema appears to be firing shots from an assault rifle during the EFF's 5th anniversary celebrations at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape on Saturday.
"He (Malema) shot (a rifle) in a built-up area, he fired it when there were people in the vicinity where he endangered the lives of others, and he used a firearm that was obviously not licensed to him. Those are at least three offences (Malema) could be charged with."
But the video might not be sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.
"The difficulty is always going to be the authenticity of the evidence. Video evidence can be challenged and will require a witness to testify and confirm the authenticity of the video and that Malema was the person who discharged the firearm.
"But there's definitely evidence of an offence."
According to the legal expert, the most serious charge would be the illegal possession of a firearm, which carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. Discharging a firearm in a public space is punishable by a fine, while endangering the lives of others could carry a sentence of five years' imprisonment.
On Wednesday, police confirmed that they would investigate the incident.
"I can confirm that the SAPS (South African Police Service) registered a case of discharging of a firearm in a built-up area. The due processes will follow," said police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo.
Earlier on the same day, lobby group AfriForum laid charges against Malema of contravening the Firearms Control Act.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has denied that a real firearm was used.
"It is not a firearm and no real bullets were shot. It was a simulation, part of our entire act of celebrating the 5th anniversary. It coincided with the singing of struggle songs and fireworks," Ndlozi told News24 on Tuesday.
In response to the charges brought by AfriForum, Ndlozi said: "We have nothing to fear from a police investigation. AfriForum has made the EFF and Mr Malema its agenda. They led a march called Black Monday where real guns were being proudly displayed in public; have they opened cases there as well?"