Durban - After dodging stones and swearing ANC supporters at Nkandla on Saturday, Julius Malema made a brief appearance in Umlazi on Sunday.
The leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was expected to speak to crowds at the Menzi community sports ground and “paint the town red”.
An electronic message circulated to EFF members read: “… we will assemble at Menzi community ground section. Julius Malema will be addressing the masses. All members of the public are invited.”
However, there was a poor turn-out, estimated at less than 100 people, including members of his entourage.
The EFF’s provincial spokesman, Vusi Khoza, said: “He went to Umlazi to show his face and support the local leadership’s campaign. He has a lot of commitments, as he is here for only three days.”
Khoza said Malema was due to have a closed meeting with the provincial leadership on Monday, which would mark the end of his visit to KwaZulu-Natal.
When The Mercury got to the sports ground, the caretaker said party officials had arrived that morning asking to use the venue for their rally. “I referred them to the municipality because I had not been informed,” he said.
After more than three hours, during which the party’s local officials kept telling red beret-wearing members to bear with them, Malema pitched up.
When he arrived, Malema greeted a few locals, and said: “Let’s paint Umlazi red.”
His motorcade then headed to the home of Robert Mgaga, 65, who told Malema about his welfare problems and the crime in the area.
Next on the whistle-stop tour was another house, but when The Mercury arrived Malema disappeared from the motorcade.
Khoza said he had to rush off for further meetings.
* On Saturday, Malema was confronted by angry villagers in Nkandla who were upset at his decision to build a house for Sthandiwe Hlongwane, 31.
The woman, said to be staying metres away from President Jacob Zuma’s R206-million homestead, had been staying in a run-down, muddy house with her children.
The Sunday Tribute reported that police vehicles were damaged in the melee on Saturday.
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said 30 people had been arrested and would appear in the Nkandla Magistrate’s Court on Monday to face charges of public violence.
Zwane said police were still patrolling Nkandla, but all was calm after Malema’s departure and there were no reports from the family or the EFF of intimidation or violence against Hlongwane.