‘The youth need Juju’

2011-09-03 15:49

“Zuma wa raper, hao na ya tshwanang le wena! (Zuma you rape and there is no one like you!)

“Mantashe wa utswa, hao na ya tshwanang le wena! (Mantashe you steal, there is n o one like you!)”

These were some of the chants from a group of young Julius ­Malema supporters dancing outside the ANC headquarters, Luthuli House, on Tuesday.

The demonstrators seemed uninterested in President Jacob ­Zuma’s acquittal in his rape trial or ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s unsoiled reputation.

“Mantashe wa re sokodisa, kao bane re ma sokolare! Zuma wa re sokodisa, kao bane re ma sokolare! (Zuma and Mantashe are making us suffer because we are poor!)”

Hundreds of children in school uniforms were scattered across Beyers Naudé Square.

Among them was a Grade 10 learner from Soweto who said she was sitting in class when her ­teacher announced at 10am that all the pupils should head to the school’s hall.

“We were addressed by pupils who told us they were representing Cosas and they said lessons must be stopped and we must go to other schools to pick up pupils.

“After fetching other pupils, we marched to Nhlanzane Station and caught a train without tickets. It was chaos in the train and we even lost our schoolbags,” she said.

“The bags contained books and money and we are not sure how we are going to return home.”

She ­added that she and her friend had not ­eaten the whole day and that they felt faint.

The girl’s friend said they were there to support Malema because the ANC was persecuting him for always speaking honestly.

“He hates rich people and we ­share Malema’s sentiments.”

The demonstrators sang: “Julius Malema, hao na ya tshwanang le wena (Julius Malema, there’s no one like you)!”
Xola* (14) only arrived after school.

He said: “I wanted to see what was happening. Julius speaks for us, the youth, and there’s nothing wrong with supporting him. Even my parents agree with what he says. I know the ANC will not throw him out.”

Most schoolchildren were ­locals, but a number of demonstrators came from across the country to show their support.

“I used my own money to travel from my province to Joburg,” said Gift Selemogo (22) from Northern Cape. “That is not all, I paid for my four friends to come here. We now don’t have money to go back.

“I am here to support Malema, who is suffering for us to get ­economic freedom. We have ­sacrificed a lot to be here,” he said.

Mirage Lentsoane from Sekhukhune in Limpopo said he had taken leave from work to back Malema.

“We organised buses to come here to Joburg because we feel that the ANC leadership is personalising this issue.

Malema should not be attacked because he is going to bring economic emancipation to the youth of South Africa,” he said.

Shima Mahlatsi (29) from Free State was “not happy with the manner in which Malema is being handled. This (Malema’s disciplinary hearing) has nothing to do with political and organisational issues. This has to do with (next year’s ANC elective conference in) Mangaung.”

Kgathatso Nxumalo from ­Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga said she was merely supporting Malema because she is a member of the youth league which voted him into power.

“I don’t have the full story on what he is being charged on, but I know that my community does not have electricity and Malema’s vision will result in our community being electrified,” said Nxumalo.

While some businesses in the ­area closed for the day for fear of being vandalised, it was a happy day for small traders like Amos Ngqaza, who targeted the marchers. Ngqaza sells sachets of Take 5 juice at a bus station in Newtown.

On a normal day, he sells 200 ­sachets. At the rally, he sold more than 1 000 sachets in three hours.

“It is really a good day for my business and I won’t even bother to go the bus station this week,” Ngqaza said.

A fast-food entrepreneur said she made R3 500 on the day.

Taking his cue from the hawkers, Thami* (16) from Ekurhuleni, wearing his school uniform, didn’t do much protesting – he was too busy selling sweets.

“I’m not interested in politics but I support Juju,” he said. “What I want is free education and that’s why I joined others this morning. Julius can’t be fired – the youth need him.”

* Not their real names

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