EXPELLED African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema said on Wednesday the money-laundering charges against him were not "very serious".
Mr Malema appeared in court in Polokwane on Wednesday morning to answer to 16 counts of alleged money laundering, involving more than R4m.
The Hawks investigation started in August 2011 and it was understood Mr Malema was being investigated for fraud, corruption and money laundering.
Addressing about 1,000 of his supporters outside court on Wednesday, Mr Malema said the absence of fraud and corruption charges in the charge sheet presented in court was an indication that his case was politically motivated.
He pointed out that President Jacob Zuma had never appeared before court to answer to his corruption charges.
Mr Zuma’s case was dropped in 2009 by the then acting national director of public prosecutions after the National Prosecuting Authority allegedly heard tapes pointing to a political conspiracy against Mr Zuma.
Mr Malema said on Wednesday the case against him was part of a political conspiracy led by Mr Zuma.
Senior leaders of the ANC have preferred not to talk about Mr Malema since he was expelled from the party in April this year.
The ANC rejected links to Mr Zuma in Mr Malema’s money-laundering trial, saying the accusations were "misleading and seeking to undermine the rule of law and jurisprudence of the country".
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement: "We want to state it categorically that the ANC, Zuma and its leadership have no role in the charges.
"It is evident that anybody that suggests the abuse of state powers is trying to water down the implications inherent in the charges and prejudging the case before it has even started," Mr Mthembu said.
Mr Malema used the Marikana tragedy — where 46 people died in a strike at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg — to undermine Mr Zuma's leadership.
This was part of the campaign to block Mr Zuma’s bid for a second term at the ANC national elective conference in Mangaung in December.
Mr Malema said on Wednesday he would return to the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg on Thursday, where striking workers are demanding a minimum monthly wage of R12,500.
"They will never stop us," Mr Malema said.