Former president Jacob Zuma arrives at the gala dinner for the National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa with the association’s Muzi Hlengwa, right, and Nkosentsha Shezi, left, at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban. Picture: The Mercury

Durban - Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus said former president Jacob Zuma fully deserved two awards given to him by the controversial National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa (Nafupa SA) in Durban on Thursday night.

The gala dinner came just days after an interdict against the association was made final in the Durban High Court in an action brought by burial services assurer Avbob to stop the group from conducting unlawful protests or gathering at any of Avbob’s branches, or preventing anyone from entering or leaving.

The court also granted an order finding the group in contempt of the initial order, and Durban High Court Judge Philip Nkosi cautioned the group not to make any utterances that would get them in trouble.

Niehaus and members of the pro-Zuma Black First Land First (BLF) were among the guests invited to the award ceremony at the Olive Convention Centre. Radical BLF members sang Struggle songs praising and defending Zuma.

Read: Radical groups plan award dinner for Zuma

Niehaus said that by honouring Zuma, Nafupa SA was doing what every South African should be doing.

“All of us have to give acknowledgement to former president Jacob Zuma for the huge contribution he made to the liberation Struggle of South Africa. We also have to acknowledge the role he played in working for black economic empowerment and for the promotion of radical economic transformation,” said Niehaus.

Nafupa SA previously called for a ban on white- and Indian-owned companies from entering townships to conduct funeral services.

Zuma arrived at the event to receive the awards despite having had a serious fallout with his senior comrades in the ANC and civil society, who accused him of corruption and being party to state capture. By 10pm he had not yet addressed the event

He had previously admitted to being friends with the Guptas, who have allegedly looted state-owned enterprises such as Eskom.

As a result, it is believed that Zuma will be the subject of investigation by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s commission of inquiry into state capture - which is expected to start in the next few months.

Nafupa SA, which had positioned itself as the mouthpiece of a black business empowerment struggle, described Zuma as an inspiration for radical economic transformation and expropriation of land without compensation.

Niehaus said Nafupa SA’s actions were justifiable, as black businesses had for years been frustrated at being sidelined by their white counterparts.

“Sometimes when you are in a situation of frustration, where people consistently over the years sideline you, you have to express yourself strongly in order to be heard. This is exactly what Nafupa SA is doing,” he said.

Avbob spokesperson Marius du Plessis said his organisation had no problem with Nafupa SA handing an award to Zuma.

“They obviously have their own reason for doing that, and I would not like to express my own personal view, as it is their right to do so,” he said.

He gave a short history of how Avbob had been targeted by Nafupa SA since January, with the latter embarking on a campaign to ban white-owned business, “and in particular, Avbob”.

Du Plessis denied that Avbob was a white-owned business.

“Over and above trying to prevent us from rendering a service to our clients, they have threatened that they would set fire to our business premises and our vehicles,” he said.

“In some instances they have prevented our staff from con- ducting funerals, and that is the reason why we approached the Durban High Court for relief,” he said.

The Mercury