AUGUST 11 2012 JULIUS MALEMA
Julius Malema, who had been expelled from the ANC, was on his farm outside Polokwane. He insists that he had all but given up on politics, and was not even aware of the strike that was rocking Marikana.
So determined was he to avoid getting back into politics that he had not even been answering his phone, he said. He missed several calls from his now deputy, Floyd Shivambu, and from several striking mine workers and former ANC colleagues who were asking him to intervene as he had done during the Impala platinum strike in January that year.
There, he had successfully persuaded the mine workers to return to work in exchange for convincing their bosses to negotiate.
His TV was on in his lounge, but the volume was down on August 16 when footage of the massacre was broadcast. Walking past and glancing at the TV, he assumed it was a documentary on apartheid.
“That picture on TV didn’t immediately click as a current affairs event. I thought it was old apartheid images. Later, I was very angry. I was highly disturbed and in denial [at first],” he said this week.
Because the footage was being repeated on TV, Malema turned the volume up and realised what had happened. He then called eNCA reporter Xoli Mngambi, who was at the scene, Shivambu and the mine workers whose calls he had missed.
When Malema arrived in Marikana two days after the massacre, tensions were still high, and a number of mine workers were still gathered on the koppie.
“They were still ready to attack and I told them it was not going to work. We needed to calm down and try to find solutions to this problem. The continuation of violent attacks and violent responses would just lead to more people dying. I said we should try to restore order because this violence was going to sidetrack us from the main issue, which was getting them R12 500 a month and having the police arrested for the killing of the workers,” he said on Tuesday.
“The reality of the situation is that, since Marikana, we have not seen the introduction of new methods to combat violent protests, such as training of police in public order or equipment to engage in crowd control without loss of life.
“Marikana did not teach us alternative ways of dealing with protests. I don’t need to be a sangoma to know it will happen again. You ought to just analyse the situation and ask what led to Marikana, and has it changed after Marikana? The answer is no.”