Juju’s mysterious white boy

2012-04-07 17:01

If it was a big moment for 17-year-old Jonathan Ovadia to be called on to the stage by his ­self-proclaimed mentor, Julius Malema, he isn’t talking about it.

Neither is Malema nor the ANC Youth League.

Ovadia, who is a Grade 11 pupil at King David Victory Park High School in Johannesburg, is described by classmates as someone who seems to be conservative in his political views and who mixes with friends with a similar outlook on life.

At least three expressed surprise that Ovadia would want to be Malema’s right-hand man, although he is known by some of his friends to be very supportive of the suspended-again youth league president whom he “defends vehemently”.

Just over a week ago, his Facebook profile still showed that he “liked” the page, “1 000 000 against Julius Malema”, but that was subsequently removed after he became an overnight sensation when Malema “outed” Ovadia as his protégé.

The only other possible indication of Ovadia’s politics on Facebook is the pro-Israel page, “United with Israel”, listed under his interests.

How Malema came to hook up with the young man he told an audience at the Witwatersrand University at the end of last month he is mentoring in “radical politics”, remains unclear.

Someone at the school said it’s likely that Ovadia chose to shadow Malema for a project every pupil in the class had to do.

Ovadia left the hall soon after he was called on stage by Malema, and he appeared a little uncertain of how to act as television cameras and photographers focused on him in the minute or two he was in the spotlight.

He refused to talk to the media then, and he still does so now – much like his mentor.

When called on Wednesday, Ovadia said he would consider telling his story, but the following day, when pressed for an interview, he threatened legal action via SMS: “Prior to you writing any story in any way affiliated to my self, please be aware that I have sought legal advise (sic) and have been made aware that any article that may affect my reputation negatively will be the subject of a defamation claim and I will Pursue (sic) same vigilantly against both the writer and the publisher.

“Please note further that any statements taken from my so-called school mates is hearsay and further subject to a similar claim. I will release a statement when I am ready . . .”

This is somewhat more elaborate than the SMSes his mentor, Malema, sends, which usually read: “Non (sic) of your business.”

If Malema was keen to make good in the past few weeks for having been accused by some in the ANC last year of alienating minorities at the ballot box, events in recent days have overtaken the spin.

Ovadia’s introduction to the public was supposed to prove Malema’s new-found love for white people, whom, he said, should not be driven into the sea.

Youth league spokesperson Magdalene Moonsamy, who was earlier in the week keen to promote the league’s image as that of an organisation that accepts all race groups, sounded somewhat overrun when she was called again on the matter – one day after Malema’s temporary suspension and gagging was announced.

“It isn’t part of our programme of action right now to speak about Jonathan,” she said.

Her colleague, Floyd Shivambu, was foul-tempered when asked how Malema and Ovadia met. Shivambu wanted to know why the information should be public.

“There is nothing to say. Please don’t call me about it again, please,” he said irritably.

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