South Africa issues arrest warrant for Malema

South African authorities have allegedly issued an arrest warrant for ANC renegade Julius Malema, President Jacob Zuma's most vocal critic and a key backer of a wave of recent wildcat strikes, according to media reports.

"We have received confirmation from the authorities that there is an arrest warrant issued for Mr Malema," Nicqui Galaktiou of Brian Kahn Attorneys told local newspaper, City Press, on Friday.

"We are busy arranging Mr Malema's appearance next week," Galaktiou said. "We don't have a confirmed date yet. We have not seen the warrant of arrest. We don't know what the charges are. He won't be jailed."

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Johannesburg on Friday said that the arrest warrant has been expected as Malema had for days been telling the media that Zuma's government has been trying to arrest him.

"He has been telling the media this all the time and his lawyers have tried to preampt the whole matter by meeting
the prosecuting authority first and trying to have meetings with them," she said.

"We know that they are still in meetings, trying to negotiate a date in which Malema can appear in court and it's
likely to be early next week."

"Corruption charges"

The former Youth League leader was expelled from the ruling African National Congress in April, Galaktiou said.

She added that the charges stemmed from an investigation by the police's elite Hawks detective division, which has been probing 31-year-old Malema for alleged corruption relating to the award of government contracts in his native Limpopo province.

The Hawks' Colonel Mahlangu had advised Malema and his lawyers of the existence of a warrant, she said.

Malema, who had been addressing crowds of striking miners and calling for nationwide industrial action, was facing charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption, reported the local City Press newspaper.

Malema has also unnerved investors by calling for the nationalisation of mines in the world's top platinum producer.

The wave of wildcat strikes started with a mass walkout at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in early August, and culminated a week later with the police killing of 34 striking miners in the deadliest security incident since the 1994 end of apartheid.

Strikes spread 

The unrest hit AngloGold on Friday when workers downed tools at its Kopanang mine in South Africa's Free State province.

"The night shift embarked on an unprotected strike at Kopanang and the morning shift didn't go down either," company
spokesman Alan Fine said.

Fine said the mine has 5,000 workers and the strikers had not yet communicated their demands to the company.

A spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers said the strikers wanted a wage of $1,500 (12,500 rand) a month,
mirroring demands at other mines.

This is about triple the amount earned as basic pay at the bottom end of the wage scale in the industry.

Lonmin said a wage settlement at Marikana this week would add 14 per cent to its wage bill from October 1, a huge strain on a company battling with an already shaky balance sheet and rising costs on other fronts.

Workers at the world's top platinum producer Anglo American Platinum and bullion producer Gold Fields are also on illegal strikes over pay, sparking concerns about more copycat action.

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