Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) commander in chief Julius Malema stole the limelight when he arrived at the Marikana killings’ commemoration service today.
Thousands of people who gathered on the koppie at Nkaneng and in and outside the white marquee, stood up, punched the air, ululated and whistled as Malema arrived at the event.
Malema was flanked by the party’s co-founder, Floyd Shivambu, and spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Malema, who was clad in a red beret, black T-shirt, black pants and black blazer, walked next to the crowd and raised his hand and saluted the crowd.
As he walked to take his seat in the VIP tent, the crowd chanted: “Juju, Juju.”
This was a far cry from the reception other leaders received from the crowd when they arrived at the event.
Opposition leaders were only mobbed by reporters who wanted comment from them about the event.
Addressing the crowd earlier, Reverend Joe Seoka, who was tasked with investigating the living conditions of the Marikana miners, said what happened in August last year would never repeat itself.
“Never again shall the act of violence which happened a year ago happen again. We should not use violence as language to talk to each other. Never again will workers be slaughtered like animals for protesting peacefully in demand for R12 500,” he said.
“We will get this R12 500, but we need to devote our energy to peace and not violence. We must make sure that we get it because if we don’t get it that will mean that those who were killed have died for nothing,” Seoka said.
Meanwhile, opposition party leaders slammed the ANC for boycotting the event.
Said Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele: “It’s an indication that the ruling party doesn’t care a damn about what happened. It’s a blunder for them because it is not about using the event to score political points but to sympathise with the widows and families of those who were killed.”
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi also berated the ANC for staying away from the event.
“They are saying that opposition parties hijacked the event to score cheap political points, but they themselves are doing so by boycotting the event,” he said.
Said Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota: “People were mowed down Sharpeville-style by the police and the ANC was supposed to be with us today to unite us but decided not to come because some of their leaders are wealthy billionaires because of these mines,” he said.
NFP leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi said she was there to listen to the widows and families of the killed miners.
“We want to find out what is it that we can do so that their children are able to go to school and do not go to bed on an empty stomach. So it is really unfortunate that the party that was supposed to be here with them chose not to come,” she said.
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