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South Africa issues warrant for rebel politician Malema

South African authorities have issued an arrest warrant for controversial politician Julius Malema. The former ruling party youth leader is a supporter of wildcat mine protests and a vocal critic of President Jacob Zuma.

Julius Malema's lawyer confirmed his arrest warrant Friday after media reports had linked the contentious politician to charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

"We were notified today that a warrant of arrest was issued against Julius Malema," his lawyer, Nicqui Galaktiou, told the AFP news agency. "We don't have information on the charges and we don't have a copy of the warrant."

South African newspaper City Press said the warrant related to his family trust and shareholding company, which has made millions from government tenders.

Malema was expelled from the African National Congress earlier this year for indiscipline, and was expected to appear in court next week.

Media had reported this week that a South African special police force, known as the Hawks, was planning to arrest Malema at the end of the week. Malema dismissed the threat, saying "the Hawks have been arresting me every weekend."

The 31-year-old has been a divisive figure in recent times, calling for the nationalization of mines and urging workers to strike for better wages.

The wildcat mine protests began in August with a mass walkout at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine. One week later, police killed 34 of the striking miners. It was the deadliest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994.

dr/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)