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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.”

Julius Malema

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