The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is hitting back following backlash over leader Julius Malema’s remarks on police in South Africa. The EFF claims Malema’s utterances, which he made during a visit to Mofulatshepe township, Mohokare Municipality in the Free State on Sunday, 22 November, were misunderstood.

“In what can only be described as hypocrisy and a performance of outrage, Bheki Cele and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) have taken the Commander-In-Chief’s condemnation of police brutality against protesters out of context, to present an image of a threat to law enforcement in the country from the EFF. It is a blatant lie and a manipulation of facts,” the red berets said in a statement.

Malema’s comments were in response to the violence that had broken out just days before during an EFF protest outside Brackenfell High School. The school was at the receiving end of racism allegations after it emerged that a group of parents held a private, unofficial matric ball that was only attended by white pupils. At the demonstrations, police clashed with mainly EFF members, using rubber bullets and teargas to disperse crowds.

Malema was undoubtedly not happy about the incident and said:

“If SA police want a fight, they must declare it. We will treat them the same way we treated them in the 80s. We will not only fight them at the picket lines. We will go to their homes and fight them in their own houses with their own families”

This sparked fiery responses from all corners, including Police Minister Bheki Cele and union Popcru.

“I think the EFF leader has crossed the line, you’re not going to threaten the police and think they will just fold their arms. The job of the police is clear and is prescribed in the Constitution, which is to protect, prevent, combat and investigate crime. Police are also there to uphold and enforce the law, so no one has the right to threaten the police when they conduct their work,”

Police Minister Bheki Cele

EFF: We have never encouraged police brutality

The EFF maintains it has long been against police brutality and said its leader had merely reiterated a long-held position that South Africans’ patience with law enforcement “that resembles that of the Apartheid state, is wearing thin.”

“The EFF has long held a stance against police brutality in South Africa, since it was founded. This can be traced back to our inception when we stood against the massacre of mineworkers in Marikana, who were shot and killed execution style by a South African Police Service that has an uncontrollable desire for the blood of black people,” the red berets further said.

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