Several presidents and former presidents from both South Africa and different parts of the continent attended the event, where Madikizela-Mandela’s daughters delivered a fiery tribute to the fallen hero. However, the tribute from the EFF’s commander in chief Julius Malema, drew some of the loudest applause from the crowd.
His comments were, however, also meet with boos by some ANC members in the crowd.
“Some of those who sold you out to the regime are here. They are crying the loudest, more than us – who died for you,” Malema said, before lambasting those who he believed had wronged the struggle veteran.
The ANC’s current president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the country’s president, the ANC Women’s League, and the UDF were just some of those Malema targeted. However, before that he greeted everyone, including the structures of the ANC, and declared: “President Cyril Ramaphosa was Mama Winnie’s president. If you disrespect President Ramaphosa, you’re disrespecting Mama Winnie.”
His refusal to acknowledge former president Jacob Zuma was clearly notable.
During his fiery address, Malema questioned several aspects of the ANC government.
“Mama, the widows of Marikana are still in tears. What do I tell them? What about those who killed their husbands for selfish gains? What do we do with them? Give us a sign Mama.”
Although he did not name Ramaphosa, the EFF has previously expressed that he had a role in the killing of 34 miners by South African police during a protracted strike for better wages in 2012.
Ramaphosa, who was a non-executive director for the mining company Lonmin at the same, called for “concomitant action” to be taken against the miners.
“You were never a member of the UDF, you were a member of the ANC. All those who resigned from the women’s NEC [national executive committee], who said they don’t want to be led by a criminal, are here,” he said.
“We see you in your suits, sell-outs.”
He acknowledged that the stalwart had wished to see him return to the 106-year-old liberation movement, but said he had pleaded his case as to why he and members of his party couldn’t do so.
“You wanted us to come back to the ANC – to which ANC? The same one who sold you out,” asked Malema.
Some ANC members started attempts to drown out Malema by booing and singing, but he continued and called on Soweto residents to never forget her name. He also said that Cape Town International Airport should be named after her.
As soon as Malema wrapped up his speech, EFF supporters started streaming out of the stadium.
President Cyril Ramaphosa read out and dedicated Maya Angelo’s poem ”Still I rise” to Madikizela-Mandela, saying it could easily have been written to the struggle icon.
”They sought to denigrate her with bitter and twisted lies, but still she rose. They wanted to see her broken, with bowed head and lowered eyes, and weakened by soulful cries, but still she rose,” he said as he delivered the eulogy for Madikizela-Mandela.
He conceded that the ANC hasn’t been there for her during the tumultuous times.
”As we bid her farewell, we are forced to admit that too often as she rose, she rose alone. The day after she died, the ANC’s top six leaders went to her home to pay our condolences to her family.
“[Eldest daughter] Zenani Mandela, reflecting on her mother’s life and overcome by emotion, said, ‘My mother suffered. She had a very difficult life’. Then she burst into tears. That statement and those tears have stayed with me since that day,” Ramaphosa said.
Madikizela-Mandela had been left to tend to her own pain alone, the president added.
”Left alone to fend for herself only caused her more pain. But she touched our wounds all the time. When we lost our loved ones, when people were in pain, overcome with anger, prone to violence, she came to touch our wounds. She bore witness to our suffering. She bandaged our wounds… we did not do the same for her,” Ramaphosa said.
He reiterated his commitment to seek atonement and begin the healing process in the aftermath of the Marikana masacre, saying he would visit the widows of the murdered Marikana miners with Malema.
“Mama you are gone now. We were still supposed to do a lot of things together. I am going to go to Marikana without you, but I will be guided by your spirit. I know that Julius will come with me so that we can heal the wounds of those in Marikana,” he said.