The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in KwaZulu-Natal says it has learnt with “shock”, but “not surprised”, that EFF leader Julius Malema claims he was personally invited to attend the funeral of former league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa.
Provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo on Wednesday accused Malema of having a “low character” and deliberately misleading the country about the funeral invitation.
Magaqa, 35, was a councillor from Umzimkhulu Municipality at the time of his death. He died on Monday night at Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban after he was rushed to hospital on July 13 when he was shot and wounded in an ambush along with two other ANC councillors.
Sabelo on Monday said he had made a comment “as a gesture” during a Twitter conversation, where Malema had expressed his sadness at the passing away of Magaqa, and did not invite the EFF leader to attend the councillor’s funeral on September 16.
Malema tweeted at the time: “My brother and friend #SindisoMagaqa is no more, may his soul Rest In Peace. We will always miss you fearless economic freedom fighter.”
Sabelo replied to Malema on Twitter: “He [Magaqa] was indeed a fearless economic freedom fighter. Do attend the funeral.”
he was indeed a fearless economic freedom fighter. Do attend the funeral.
— Thanduxolo Sabelo (@TdxSabelo) September 4, 2017
Sabelo said his comment was “clearly” not an invitation, as it had been suggested by Malema. He said it was un-African to invite or even disinvite someone from a funeral.
“Being a person of such low character Malema has decided to lie about this calling it a personalised invitation by the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal,” Sabelo said in a statement.
“It pains the Youth League to have to challenge these lies and deliberate distortions by Malema during this difficult time of grieving one of our own, but as Magaqa had taught us, you must challenge those telling lies and claiming easy victories.”
However, in a Facebook status hours after the release of the ANCYL statement, Sabelo apologised for his Twitter response. He said should have known better and it was an error of judgment on his part.
In a statement on Tuesday, Malema said he was “shocked” and found it “painful” that the league in KZN had been making calls inviting him to Magaqa’s funeral in Umzimkhulu. The firebrand leader said he would attend the funeral without anyone’s invitation on the condition of a “thorough security assessment”.
“Nothing is more insensitive and an utter betrayal of African tradition than this shallow sickening fame-seeking call,” Malema said.
“I do not know of anywhere in our traditions where people get invited to funerals. It is sickening and shattering at the same time for Magaqa’s name to be used to score cheap political and fame-seeking point.”