At the beginning of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral on Saturday morning, Orlando Stadium was awash with the colours of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the African National Congress (ANC). But once Julius Malema had finished his speech, EFF members left the stadium in droves.
When Malema took to the podium, EFF party members cheered. Malema spoke of why the EFF attended Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral: “The entire leadership… is here because they proudly associated with you and what you stood for while you were still alive, they looked for solutions and guidance from you.”
“You fought for what you believed was right, possessed only by your love for our people and the restoration of their dignity,” he said.
But once Malema ended his speech, the previously packed stadium thinned somewhat, leaving a majority of ANC and only few EFF party members behind.
Mehlwana Noluvuyo, 24, a member of the EFF, said that she believes the EFF exodus signified praise for Malema, “I think they were celebrating the bitter truth that he spoke and all the things that Winnie Mandela went through”.
David Monareng, another of the member of the EFF, said people left after Malema spoke because the ANC members who remained behind had “betrayed the aspirations of the black people.”
Noluvuyo added: “Who would want to listen to the clowns that are speaking now?”
Monareng said EFF members felt betrayed by the ANC and that it was appropriate to leave the funeral. “The ANC could not implement principles of the freedom charter [so I] won’t listen to what they have to say, The course of black people never changed.”
He added that while Mam Winnie was a part of the ANC, she identified with a lot of EFF principles and supported members of the EFF by attending its conferences.
Although a lot of EFF members left, others returned to the stadium to hear other speakers, including President Cyril Ramaphosa.