EFF leader Julius Malema. File photo: ANA/Nokuthula Mbatha

Johannesburg - Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is expected to address thousands of EFF supporters at its final "Tshupa Thela" elections rally at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg on Sunday, despite the death of his grandmother Koko Sarah Malema the previous day. 

Koko Sarah died at her home in Seshego, Polokwane in Limpopo on Saturday morning. It was the second tragedy to hit the family in as many months after the death of Malema's aunt, Koko Sarah's daughter. 

Koko Sarah has been a pillar of strength for the Malemas, raising Julius from a young age when his mother Florah died following an epileptic fit. She was by Malema's side when he was expelled from the African National Congress and when he formed the EFF, as well as when he graduated and when he got married. 

Malema has been very open about the close relationship he had with his grandmother, how she instilled discipline in him and raised him to be an "honourable man". 

"Our pillar of strength has fallen, the great tree that provided cooling shades of comfort, love, and stability have been uprooted, forever, from our lives. I love you, my confidant," Malema said in a tweet on Saturday with a picture of his granny. 

Condolences have been pouring in following Koko Sarah's death, including from President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as the ANC.

In a tweet on Sunday morning, Malema said, "We want to take this opportunity to thank you for the messages of condolences for our grandmother. Your words are indeed helping us to navigate this uncertain time. She was my loyal and dependable force in the struggle. We have been through a lot together. Thanks you everyone."

Malema is pushing to double the EFF's support from the six percent it received in 2014. A gruelling election campaign saw him criss-crossing the length and breadth of the country.

During the EFF's state of readiness briefing on Friday, party spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the EFF had seen rapid growth in rural areas over the past five years, and had grown a large support base in other parties' strongholds, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. 

African News Agency (ANA)