Newspaper headlines read "15,000 Malema supporters" outside the Polokwane court house, but it was more like 3,000.

They may be fewer than anticipated, but they are loud, defiant and ready to support the one-time leader of the African National Congress' youth league.

Moments after he is charged with money laundering and out on bail, an outspoken Malema addresses the crowd.

I almost didn't recognise him in his black designer suit. He is usually in ANC party regalia.

Right now he looks more like a wealthy business exceutive than a youth league leader.

His supporters cheer and wait anxiously to hear what he has to say.

It's a speech full of venom - possibly the first time I personally hear him criticise president Jacob Zuma so angrily.

He says Zuma will not get a second term as party leader of the ruling ANC, and even calls for his enemy to be removed as president of South Africa.

He then says the usual - and talks about nationalising the mines, and urging workers to go on strike and demand more pay.

His court appearance on Wednesday was his chance to outline his plan on how to fight Zuma.

Critics of Malema say the wealthy self-proclaimed champion of the poor is manipulating frustrated South Africans to push his own political agenda in hopes of a return to the ranks of the ruling party.

He was expelled in April 2012 for sowing divisions within the party.

Who knows if Malema will succeed in getting Zuma out but he is managing to agitate the poor and working class.

Every gold and platinum mine I have visited in the past month has one thing in common - posters of Julius Malema. To the poor he is a hero.

Politicians are under pressure to create more jobs, deliver services and improve the lives of the poor black majority.

When people are angry and desperate they tend to latch on to anything or anyone who promises them something different.

Malema's supporters outside the court in Polokwane don't seem to notice the shiny luxury car he arrives in, or the designer suit and watch. Maybe it's not convenient at the moment.

But history has a way of repeating itself in South Africa.

In 2007, Thabo Mbeki, former president, tried to sideline then rival Jacob Zuma by dragging him to court.

Zuma won that battle and became leader of the ANC and president of country.

In 2012 some analysts think Zuma is using the judiciary to do the same to the outspoken Julius Malema.

Who knows, in a few years time Malema could do the same to someone else.