Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi took to Twitter on Saturday to thank the EFF and its leader Julius Malema for supporting him after he was ceremonially lynched this week by two Afrikaners.
“Thank you so much Fighters for the support, it truly means a lot for all of us. Thank you @Julius_S_Malema,” he wrote.
The EFF released a statement on Thursday saying they condemned “the white racists who created and paraded an effigy of Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi in Tshwane yesterday. These racists, in an effort to oppose the transformation of Afrikaans schools, used this effigy not only to insult the humanity of Panyaza Lesufi but also of all black people. The effigy was in the end ‘hanged’ on a tree to evoke the lynching of black people, mainly by the Ku Klux Klan, that was popular in the racist American South.
“There is nothing white people can do anymore to defend ‘white only’ spaces, particularly in education. We as a country shall never allow any more for any language to be used as a tool to exclude black people from education.”
They called for the prosecution of the two men.
“These racist white men are a menace to our democratic order. They belong in jail, behind bars, where criminals like them are kept.
“No one must go around threatening public servants for doing what is a constitutionally charged mandate. A white racist must meet the full might of the law and not threaten black peoples with impunity.”
Cabinet also urged law enforcement agencies to take action, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said on Thursday.
Briefing journalists on Wednesday’s fortnightly cabinet meeting, Mokonyane described the incident as “disturbing” especially because it took place in the same month the country was commemorating the killings of struggle stalwarts Solomon Mahlangu, who was hanged by the apartheid government in 1979, and Chris Hani, who was assassinated in 1993.
“On behalf of government we refuse any kind of temptation to take us back to where we come from, and we don’t also believe that this is the attitude of many white fellow South Africans,” she said.
“We want to warn South Africans as well that there are laws now that actually criminalises hate speech and any act that seeks to inflict and promote division on the basis of race, on the basis of colour … and we do urge the law enforcement agencies, because those white men have actually come out and shown themselves in their pictures … action must be taken.”
Lesufi has been criticised for moves to introduce dual language policies at schools to ensure langauage was not used to bar black pupils from attending certain schools.
Mokonyane called on white South Africans to distance themselves from those who hanged the effigy.
“We call on patriotic white South Africans to stand up and say ‘not in my name’,” she said.