Malema: Calling EFF supporters mental patients is ‘disrespectful to black people’

Julius Malema is leading the Economic Freedom Fighters party in May elections. Picture: AFP / Wikus de Wet

Julius Malema is leading the Economic Freedom Fighters party in May elections. Picture: AFP / Wikus de Wet

The party called journalist Karima Brown an ‘ANC operative’ in a statement.

Some are pushing an agenda regarding EFF supporters that is disrespectful to black people, Malema told journalists following an event where, according to the EFF’s official Twitter account, the party was “hosting the elderly of Ward 6 in Ekhuruleni to dialogue about how the EFF will change their lives and the communities they come from”.

Malema’s comments followed an interviewer asking Malema if he felt any need to apologise for what his members may have said to journalist Karima Brown following his sharing of her cellphone number on Twitter.

Brown has been harassed following Malema’s tweet, and even threatened with violence and rape, both on social media and via her cellphone, she told The Citizen. She shared some of the worst threats with The Citizen. More on that can be read here.

“I don’t even know if they are members. You see, you are making an allegation which you can’t justify,” was Malema’s response.

“You can’t produce their membership card. An avatar on an Instagram or WhatsApp or Facebook doesn’t make you a member especially in the era of fake news where people say all types of things hiding behind social media.

Brown, however, told The Citizen she believes the EFF are the ones who are “involved in creating fake news” with their allegations that she is an ANC spy.

“There is no member of the EFF who has attacked [Brown] through the mandate of the EFF, there is no such instruction issued from the EFF,” Malema claimed.

He then appeared to allege that some were pushing a narrative that EFF supporters were mentally unstable in a bid to disrespect black people as a whole.

“This thing of trying to create an impression that EFF people are mental hospital patients, it’s wrong,” he said.

“That every time they act in an irrational manner, every time they act in a mad manner, it’s insulting, it’s disrespectful of black people, [it’s] to think the worst of black people, that they can’t think on their own. That they don’t know what is wrong or right.

READ MORE: Malema on warpath against journos after being accused of ‘instigating assault’

“I think EFF members are well upstairs, they can differentiate between wrong and right and they will never do anything to harm our democracy and to harm anyone in this country.

“This narrative that continues to suggest that they are mad – it’s how black people are being viewed and that narrative must come to an end,” Malema said.

Malema also responded to the outcry following his sharing of Brown’s number by simply saying that, in his view, she was not a journalist. Brown is in fact currently working as a journalist, producer and host at eNCA and also hosts The Karima Brown Show on 702 and Cape Talk.

This followed calls from the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) for Malema to apologise, which he has refused to do.

“She is not [bound] by any journalistic ethics code,” he said.

“It’s like me asking any ordinary person on the street why do you do this. They will tell me where to get off, I’ve got no jurisdiction over them, they are individuals.

“If she was a journalist, I will take it up with her. I’ve taken up issues with all of you including this one from eNCA, I call him up and say, ‘Hey, you are wrong’ and I’ve never exposed his number.

“But I have no jurisdiction over her. She was in the group because she was a journalist at some point. She has lost that privilege.”

The party, meanwhile, issued a statement echoing Malema’s view that Brown was “not a journalist”, going a step further in calling her “an openly admitted ANC operative”.

Brown slammed the statement as “absolute nonsense” when called by The Citizen.

She described Malema’s sharing of her number as “An attack on my person, my professional and my ability to do my job, as well as an attack on our democratic state and our constitution”.

“All journalists who hold legitimate positions, and whose integrity has always been consistent with journalistic ethics, should care about what role Karima Brown plays in the media,” the EFF statement reads.

“We know for a fact that Karima Brown holds no editorial positions, not even an assignment editor’s position at eNCA.”

Brown, however, told The Citizen that she is a producer at eNCA and that therefore part of her job is to discuss stories and their angles with journalists.

READ MORE: Sanef calls on Malema to apologise to Karima Brown

While the party on Tuesday night shared Brown’s number after claiming she had mistakenly posted a message to the EFF’s WhatsApp group which showed her intention of “sending moles” to the party’s breakfast with the elders held this morning, others, such as former Mail & Guardian editor Chris Roper pointed out that her message just seemed to be notes to a journalist from an editor.

Brown confirmed this, telling The Citizen the EFF’s allegations show a “complete misunderstanding how the media works”.

“I was basically doing my job,” she said, adding that she often briefs to eNCA journalists as part of her job on the Jane Dutton show, which she described as “normal production work”.

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