Malema spoke to the miners, who have not been paid since Aurora Empowerment Systems – a company partly owned by President Jacob Zuma's nephew, Khulubuse, and Nelson Mandela's grandson, Zondwa – took over the mine.
"Our leaders have lost their way and have been co-opted by mine owners and fed profits. They don't care about you," Malema said to applause.
His chants of "Phansi, Zuma, Phansi (down with Zuma)" were met with enthusiastic replies from the workers, who relayed to him their anger with the government and the ANC. "He is our future! He's our leader! He will be our president! The ANC are cowards," one miner said of Malema.
The liquidators of Pamodzi appointed Aurora Empowerment Systems to manage the mines in October 2009, when they were fully operational. Since then, the directors of Aurora – Khulubuse Zuma, Zondwa Mandela, Zuma's legal adviser, Michael Hulley, and Thulani Ngubane – have come under intense scrutiny over the mine's demise and in November last year were grilled in Parliament over claims they had fraudulently stripped the mine of its assets.
Malema told the Grootvlei miners they needed to stand up for their rights. "We thought it would be nice to be a black person after 1994, but it's got worse than apartheid. Our own people are killing us," he said.
Malema also said miners countrywide should make all mines "ungovernable" until the "whites listen".
"They must pay a decent wage – R12 500 a month as a basic wage for all. This is your time. This country is what it is today because of miners like you. You must claim your rightful place in South Africa," he said.
Malema called on miners to continue their strike and prevent work from being carried out at the mine. "The liquidators need to ensure workers must be paid first. We must stand united … because if we don't the whites will throw away the contract workers like toilet paper."