EFF leader Julius Malema said on Tuesday that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela never betrayed her people but had instead befriended “cockroaches”.
He warned her critics against distorting her memory.
“They must continue to distance themselves in the same way they distanced themselves from Winnie in the 80s. They must continue to distance themselves in the same way they continued to distance themselves when she was still alive,” Malema said referring to her detractors.
He said that some of her fiercest rivals were the most celebrated politicians today. Malema visited the Madikizela-Mandela family home on Tuesday, a day after she died at the age of 81 following a prolonged illness.
He said while at the Soweto home he had seen people who did not like Madikizela-Mandela “playing some leading role”. They “want to distort the real Winnie”, he said.
“We are watching them. We are very close to the family and we will continue to advise the family as to what is acceptable and unacceptable. We know what mama hated. We know who mama didn’t want next to her because of the things they did to her. We will be monitoring them closely. We will whisper into their ears and if they don’t listen, we will call them out publicly,” he said.
‘Defend her in death’
Several political leaders have visited the family home to pay their last respects to the late struggle veteran. On Monday evening President Cyril Ramaphosa, accompanied by ANC national executive committee members, visited the home and declared that her funeral would be an official national funeral.
Malema was known as Madikizela-Mandela’s close friend.
She often said that she wished Malema would return to the ANC after he was expelled from the party. The two were last seen together publicly during the graduation party of EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Malema encouraged South Africans to defend Madikizela-Mandela against racists who insulted her memory, adding that the country had failed to defend her while she was still alive.
“The least we can do is to defend her in her death and not allow the racists to insult her without you coming out in your numbers to defend her.”
Praising Madikizela-Mandela as a fearless fighter, he said that she was feared in death as she was in life. He said that was why the media continued “to call her names”.