ANC MP Supra Mahumapelo has called on supporters of Jacob Zuma to mobilise ahead of the former president's May 6 appearance in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, no matter the consequences.
Mahumapelo joined several leaders of the ANC, including Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, ANC Free State chairperson Sam Mashinini, members of parliament Mosebenzi Zwane and Joe Maswanganyi to welcome the former statesman back into the country.
Some of the former president's children had also joined in to welcome him home.
Mahumapelo warned those going after Zuma, vowing to always defend him, even if it meant doing so before the former leader takes the stand.
"And we don't care about the consequences, we don't care what will happen, everything has already happened to some of us," said Mahumapelo.
He added that this was in line with principles of the ANC to always defend leaders of the revolution.
Zuma has been in Cuba since the beginning of February receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
A warrant of arrest, which has been suspended until his next court appearance in May, was issued against the former president, following his failure to attend proceedings in his corruption trial.
A sick note presented to the courts by his legal ream was also questioned by Judge Dhaya Pillay.
Mahumapelo told hundreds of Zuma's supporters gathered around the statue of long-time ANC president OR Tambo, at the international arrivals terminal that many were not happy because "multitudes" of cadres from the ANC were in support of its former leader.
He further called them to go home and gather more supporters so they can all attend the May 6 case.
"We want to say to all those who have got an issue with president Zuma, that particular day, you touch Zuma, you touch us," said Mahumapelo, adding that this has to be a clear, unambiguous message.
He said no matter how some felt, Zuma's contributions and place in the history of the former liberation movement could never be erased.
"You can do whatever you want, jump into the lake, get into a plane and fly to the furthest point of the world. Everyone knows the visionary national development plan that we are implementing today was brought about by Jacob Zuma," said Mahumapelo.
He also praised the former president for allowing millions to access ARVs, thus reducing the number of HIV/AIDS related deaths in the country.
Mahumapelo also lauded Zuma's announcement for free higher education, a move many still question as it was done just hours before he stepped down as ANC president in 2017 - hours later Cyril Ramaphosa was elected the party's president.
Mahumapelo said they would not allow anyone to take advantage of Zuma and his humility.
Hands off Magashule
Meanwhile, the event was also used to send a clear message to anyone seeking to "touch" the ANC's current secretary general Ace Magashule.
The supporters, who also consisted of ANC members from the Free State held aloft placards with Magashule and Zuma's faces.
Magashule has been implicated in numerous corruption claims - from his tenure as ANC Free state chair and its premier, many which are linked to the notorious Gupta family.
Mashinini, when asked about the support for Magashule being vocalised at Zuma's homecoming said: "Every member has the right to express his view. Ace Magashule is a leader of the ANC and we support him, when members are saying other people are not happy, they can also express their view," said Mashinini.