Thousands of supporters gathered at the Thembalethu Stadium in the Southern Cape town to hear Malema explain why land expropriation was a key factor in “restoring the dignity of Africans”.
He said Friday had been a significant day in South African history, especially around land issues, as it marked 366 years since Jan van Reebeeck first set foot on South African soil.
“It is on this day that our troubles started.”
Malema said April 6, 1652, signalled a time when “colonisers” deemed paper more important than people.
“They saw that the indigenous people did not have title deeds to the land they occupied and therefore believed that they had no rights to the land.”
He added that, had the Europeans “settled” with the people, they would have “accommodated the Europeans”. He further said the EFF was fighting for land expropriation without compensation because many South Africans did not have jobs, not because they were uneducated, but because they did not own land.
“With land ownership comes respect. No one respects a hobo on the street, whether he is black or white, and the reason for that is because he does not own land.”
He added that land ownership should reflect the demographics of South Africa, which it currently did not, as the large majority of land was in the hands of the white minority and only a smaller percentage in the hands of “the African majority”.
Malema said only when this changed would there be peace. He added that, currently, those who were attempting to occupy land were being arrested and shot.
“They must not stop. Those who are trying to stop them will tire.”
He used Soweto as an example of land appropriation.
“Soweto was not given to the people. It was taken by force. They too occupied what today is the biggest township in South Africa by force and it has since produced some of the biggest icons in the country.”
The gathering in Thembalethu in George followed a march through the Garden Route town’s streets on Thursday during which supporters demanded, among other things, better health care for the poor.
“We are 23 years into our democracy, yet government fails to deliver the most basic of services like healthcare and education.”