Threat to family in Malema case
April 18 2011
Threatening late-night phone calls, slashed car tyres, computer sabotage, attempts to force their cars off the road and sinister burglaries are among the threats a Pretoria advocate and his family have faced since he became involved in ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s hate speech case.
Renette du Plessis listens as her daughter, Marinette, talks about how their family has been intimidated since her father, advocate Roelof du Plessis, became involved in ANCYL president Julius Malema's hate speech trial.
But for Roelof du Plessis, SC and his family nothing will deter them in the fight for what they believe to be justice.
Du Plessis is acting for the Transvaal Agriculture Union in the case.
The advocate has not reported the intimidation because of his lack of faith in the police.
Now he has been forced to beef up his family’s security and hire guards.
But they are not the kind seen guarding Malema at court last week. The youth wing leader surrounded himself with semi-automatic machine gun wielding guards, who sparked Judge Colin Lamont’s ire.
The judge ordered the removal of the armed men from his courtroom in the Equality Court in the Johannesburg High Court on Tuesday.
The reason for Malema’s strongmen is unknown. ANC Youth league spokesman Floyd Shivambu refused to comment on any possible threats against the organisation’s president or his legal team, saying the matter was “none of your business”.
In an SMS sent to the Pretoria News late on Friday Shivambu, first asking what threats the newspaper was enquiring about, said: “There are standing threats on the ANCYL president from segments of Afrikaner, particularly those who were at Eugene Terre’Blanche’s funeral waving the racist apartheid flag and holding up posters threatening the president.
“Their folly and anger is not very different from what we notice from some insecure Afrikaners.”
Asked for a clarification, Shivambu could not give one.
Speaking from their home in an exclusive interview, the Du Plessis family, who now have 24-hour security, said they were scared but were not going to let the advocate quit the trial.
Du Plessis’s wife, Renette, asked that neither the location of their home nor the private security they had hired be identified.
Being farmers, the family said that despite the harassment initially stopping “overnight” when Du Plessis raised his concerns in a pre-hearing meeting with all the parties involved, those behind the intimidation had started their campaign again. “We do not know who is behind this, but it all started the moment my husband first began working on the case.”
After discovering that the tyres on the car of their eldest daughter were sabotaged and cut in such a way that they would burst, causing a potentially fatal accident, the family now fear that the attacks are taking on a more sinister tone.
“To say we are not scared would be a lie. These incidents, especially the latest, are far worse than before,” said Renette du Plessis.
Among recent “attacks” were Du Plessis’s narrowly avoiding being rammed off the road last week.
After a recent night out the family returned to find that their house had been broken into.
“Nothing was missing, but our family pictures were placed with newspaper clippings of the court case on our garden rubbish dump.
“When we turned on our computers that night they crashed. When we took them to a computer store the next day we discovered someone had planted a string of highly sophisticated viruses on the computers, destroying everything on them.
“Added to these attacks was when two men driving a bakkie tried to force our daughter off the road.
“These incidents are becoming more sinister. We now fear for our children’s safety.
“While we do not know what will happen next, one thing is sure, Roelof will continue with this case.
“He will not stop because if he does it means that those who are behind this have won,” she said.
The couple’s eldest daughter, Marinette, said she became truly afraid when she discovered that her car tyres had been sabotaged.
Roelof du Plessis said: “It makes one feel as though we are back in the dark apartheid days where state agents followed you, tapped your phones, broke into your homes and intimidated your family.”
Du Plessis said even if he opened a case “nothing is likely to come of it”