Malema steals the show at Marikana memorial

2012-08-23 14:29

Former ANC Youth League President Julius Malema has called the government “a pig that eats its own people” in front of senior government minister, church leaders and striking miners.

It today emerged that the memorial service organised by government was snubbed by striking mine workers – in favour of a tent and a stage paid for by an organisation which supports Malema – the Friends of the Youth League.

This was according to Malema, who sprung his trap shortly before 3pm today.

“This stage here, your government did not pay for anything. Your company did not pay for anything.”

Malema thanked the “fearless comrades” of the Friends of the Youth League for organising the event.

All of this took place in front of senior Cabinet ministers, while the stage which would apparently be used for government’s memorial service stood unused.

“Today they are all here, the only reason they are here is to pose for the cameras,” said Malema, ostensibly a reference to ministers present.

In attendance were, among others, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi as well as North West Premier Thandi Modise.

In reference to the 34 mineworkers who were shot, a fiery Malema said “we thought that under democracy our people would be protected, but the democratic government has turned against its own people”.

“The reason our government is failing to intervene in the mines is because our leaders are involved and benefitting with white people,” said Malema.

Shortly after Malema spoke, men wearing Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) shirts and brandishing knobkierries rushed onto the stage and began singing, after which the ministers left.

Modise did not make an address as was earlier announced.

Malema’s comments, to uproarious cheering and applause, were made despite pleas from church leaders that the event should “not be about political gain, but about poor people who lost their loved ones”.

Earlier today, families who had lost loved ones were mourning near the koppie that has been at the centre of the violence at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

Several women were wailing in grief and had collapsed, with family members attempting to revive them with water.

This was when Xolani Nzuza called mourners together and asked them to move down to the area where the tent was already set up.

Malema’s speeches were prefaced by hymns, prayers and songs led by religious leaders.

Stikers also retold the tale of how they were shot by police.

Reverend Joe Seoka, of the SA Council of Churches, said the 34 lives that had been lost in the shooting were “wasted lives”.

“It should not have happened,” he said.

He accused Lonmin management of refusing to participate in the work of the council before the shooting.

“If they had allowed us to go back and talk to the workers, there would not have been a need to shoot,’” he said.

A father of a mineworker who was killed, Johannes Nkosabele, asked: “Does somebody get killed for demanding money?

“It does not make sense that our children are being killed by our own government”.

Singing mourners were this afternoon climbing the koppie, as the last of the unused stage equipment was being removed.

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