EFF leader Malema is not unfit to possess firearm – expert

EFF leader Julius Malema is not unfit to possess a firearm, and he is not disqualified to possess a firearm.

This is according to defence witness Martin John Hood, who was testifying on Tuesday in the firearm discharge case of Malema and his co-accused bodyguard, Adriaan Snyman.

He said Malema, according to Section 22 of the Firearms Control Act of 2000, is not unfit to possess a firearm and is not disqualified to possess one.

Hood was testifying in defence of Malema and Snyman at the East London magistrate’s court.

EFF’s birthday celebration

He said he is an expert on the Firearms Control Act of 2000 and a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) of America.

He is also a member of the South African Wing Shooters Association, the South African Arms and Ammunitions Collectors Association, and the South African Gunowners Association, among others.

He said he is an NRA-certified rifle, handgun and shotgun instructor.

Tuesday’s proceedings started with Hood testifying about his qualifications, experience and expertise in firearm law and firearm usage.

During cross-examination, state prosecutor advocate Joel Cesar asked Hood if it was not a criminal offence for Snyman to give Malema a gun for him to shoot in the air.

“Accused number one [Malema] is not unfit to possess a firearm. He is not disqualified to possess a firearm in terms of the [Firearms Control] Act,” said Hood.

The case relates to the alleged firing of a firearm during the EFF’s fifth birthday celebration at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, in 2018.

Malema and Snyman plead not guilty

Malema faces charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and three counts of contravening the Firearms Control Act.

Snyman faces one count of contravening the Firearms Control Act and failure to take reasonable precautions to avoid danger to a person’s property.

Malema and Snyman have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

In his evidence in chief, Hood said Section 22 of the Firearms Control Act of 2000 makes provision for a person with a firearm licence to hand it over to someone who does not have a firearm licence. 

“A person needs to obtain a competency certificate to handle and discharge a firearm,” said Hood.

“You cannot use or possess a firearm without a competency certificate, but in order to be trained, the training provider allows you to use their firearm under their supervision and control.

“This can happen, for example, in a shooting range to test fire, when you are engaging in a sports shooting competition, and during hunting.”

Malema to testify this week

In October 2023, magistrate Twanet Olivier dismissed Malema and Snyman’s application to have the charges against them dropped after they submitted a Section 174 discharge application, arguing lack of evidence at the conclusion of the state’s case.

Forensic and ballistics expert Jan-Christophl De Klerk is currently on the stand, testifying on behalf of the defence.

The trial has been set for Tuesday through Thursday, and Malema and Snyman are expected to testify this week.

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