South Africa’s respected former finance minister Pravin Gordhan reported leftist opposition leader Julius Malema to police on Monday for allegedly inciting violence following inflammatory remarks he made last week.
Malema, who leads the Economic Freedom Fighters party, protested outside an ongoing corruption inquiry where Gordhan was giving evidence last week, accusing the minister of being “corrupt” and “a dog”.
“When we are trying to build one nation, we can’t have people using the kind of language they’ve been using and the kind of attacks they’ve been using,” Gordhan told journalists in front of a police station in the capital Pretoria.
He accused Malema of defamation and inciting public violence and said it was now up to police officers to investigate.
“This combination of the attack on one’s dignity, the attack on society more generally, propagating hate in society has to be stopped,” added Gordhan.
Gordhan was finance minister before he was abruptly fired by former president Jacob Zuma in March 2017 and is now the minister of state-owned companies.
He was seen as a bulwark against corruption in Zuma’s government and reportedly clashed with the president over the issue of graft.
“There were remarks made outside the (inquiry) which said there could be casualties and if you go on attacking people the way you are… the next logical point is are we facing some kind of physical harm — or even elimination,” added Gordhan.
“You’re promoting hatred.”
Gordan who last week gave evidence to the commission probing graft under Zuma, has estimated that around 100 billion rand ($7 billion, 6.2 billion euros) may have been stolen through corrupt government tenders.
He said he was “an unwitting member of an executive… which was lied to, manipulated and abused for the benefit of a few families”.
“We allowed a climate of impunity in respect of crime and corruption to emerge.”
The commission, which opened in August, is probing allegations Zuma organised a web of graft at government departments and public enterprises in a scandal known as “state capture”.
Zuma was forced to resign in February over allegations centring around the Guptas, a wealthy Indian migrant business family at the heart of the scandal.
The country’s anti-corruption ombudsman said in a report the Guptas held such sway that they chose some of Zuma’s cabinet ministers and they are accused of fraudulently profiting from vast government contracts.