Julius Malema may have seemed like a shadow of his former self, sprouting the same old rhetoric in court and when he visited Lenasia yesterday – but the residents clearly still adore him.
The expelled ANC Youth League president wore a T-shirt saying “Rural Development for All” and adorned with pictures of people popularly expected to oppose a second term for ANC president Jacob Zuma, such as Kgalema Motlanthe, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa.
Malema drew a steady throng of supporters both in court and on the ground later in the day. He was met with thunderous applause as he entered a packed 11A courtroom.
An elderly woman turned to him and said: “I want you. I’m from the Free State. I am 64 and I want you. You are a leader.”
Malema nodded and listened attentively. The woman, who lives in Swaneville in Kagiso, told Malema she didn’t have an RDP house, nor did her child, and that she had been waiting for a long time.
Malema’s rhetoric took over outside court when he told the crowd it didn’t matter that they had acquired land illegally – what mattered was that government was always on their side.
“Your land has been stolen, you’re reclaiming your land,” he said.
In Lenasia Malema described the demolitions as an “embarrassment to the ANC government”.
A woman ran toward him and bowed down at his feet.
His visit to the residents was to “share” their pain and to walk where ANC leaders were “scared” to go.
He stood on top of rubble left when bulldozers destroyed several houses and told those whose houses were being targeted that they were “also victims of crooks”.
“From killing people in Marikana to demolishing houses – this has been a huge embarrassment for the ANC government and on their behalf we accept that embarrassment,” he told a group of about 50 residents in Lenasia South extension 4.
“We stand on the principle that government must compensate all those people [whose] houses were demolished. Our people are not obsessed with Lenasia, but with land. You must never stop demanding land.
“You must never feel ashamed to built a house in a government land (sic).”
He hailed those who fought bulldozers from taking down their houses as “courageous”. – Additional reporting Thabiso Thakali