‘Malema's utterances touched many lives’
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People outside Luthuli House in Johannesburg had mixed reactions on Thursday to the suspension of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.
“It's a sad day. I'm so sad,” said Johannes Ngcolomba, 30, who donned a beret with the ANC logo.
“We thought they will give him a warning,” he said, visibly emotional.
Jimmy Simbini, 40, felt Malema's five-year suspension would not silence the youth league.
“They are very vocal. His (Malema's) utterances touched many lives. They know when he returns he will be too old to join the youth league,” he said.
“I'm sure there are comrades that are as politically conscious as Malema. I am very disappointed because South Africa needs people like Malema.”
Attorney James Sithole drove from Limpopo to witness the verdict, informing his clients he would not be working a full day as it was a matter of national interest.
As a member of both the ANC and youth league, he expressed happiness and relief at the outcome.
“I'm very happy with the result. The damage he has already done to South Africa was too much. He damaged the ANC and government,” he said.
“It sends a strong message to everyone, they must be disciplined... they should behave themselves in a disciplined way.”
He said the league's deputy president, Ronald Lamola, should take Malema's place.
An analyst on the scene, Somadoda Fikeni, said the verdict had dealt the youth league a blow.
“Even if there is an appeal, there will still be some charges.
“As an analyst, I'll take things as they come. He may just decide to appeal. It may give him some space. That is going to be a long process (and)... that limits his scope of operation.”
The ANC's national disciplinary committee said on Thursday that Malema had damaged the standing of the party and South Africa's international reputation.
Chairman Derek Hanekom said Malema had made himself guilty several times in the past two years of sowing divisions within the ANC.
Malema was found guilty of criticising Zuma in another ANC disciplinary hearing last year.
The national disciplinary committee at the time said should Malema be found guilty of provoking serious divisions or a break-down of unity in the organisation within the next two years, his ANC membership would be suspended.
Malema, who was busy writing exams in Limpopo on Thursday, had 14 days to appeal against the ruling.
He would remain on full pay until all the appeal processes were completed, African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.
Police and security guards maintained a presence outside Luthuli House, where about 30 to 40 people had gathered.
Gauteng police spokesman Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said he was “very” happy it had been a quiet day, with no incidents reported.
“We were just taking precautions (with riot gear and barbed wire). We expected it to be quiet.” - Sapa