Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says the government has put the lives of the poor black majority in danger of contracting the coronavirus in places like schools and workplaces.
Speaking at a virtual press conference on Thursday from the party’s headquarters, Malema says the move down to level 3 of the lockdown was premature and the country was not ready to do so.
Malema has called for total restraint by church goers during this time.
The EFF slammed President Cyril Ramaphosa for moving the country to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown, along with the reopening of schools, certain sectors of the economy and churches.
Malema said Ramaphosa, when he addressed the nation on Sunday calling on people to become more responsible for their own well-being during the fight against the coronavirus, had turned his back on his constitutional oath.
“He was telling us that he is no longer in charge. He has surrendered the country to the looming Covid-19 catastrophe, for the benefit of white monopoly profit interests,” he added.
The EFF held its first media briefing on Thursday since the pandemic broke out in the country.
“Do not go to church, you going to die, it’s a trap, a set-up,” said Malema.
On Tuesday, Ramaphosa announced the government had acceded to faith leaders’ cries to be allowed to congregate under Level 3.
Malema pleaded with religious leaders to not open their places of worship, saying if they indeed care for their congregations and had high moral standards they would keep them out of danger.
He made an example of the case in Bloemfontein, where 67 people contracted the virus while attending a church event. ACDP leaders Kenneth Meshoe and Steve Swart as well as evangelist Angus Buchan were among those infected.
Malema called on EFF members to not attend church services.
“We call upon the caring leaders of religion not to connive with white capital to kill black people. Our people can still pray at home.”
The red berets’ commander-in-chief said he believed the country should remain at Level 5, with a Level 6 being introduced in the Western Cape, which is the epicentre of the virus in the country.
He also took at dig at the president and government, questioning why restaurants were left out, while churches, which did not even contribute to the country’s economy, were being opened.
“Restaurants already practiced social distancing even before social distancing. Hygiene is number one at restaurants. There are inspectors hired by municipalities that inspect the compliance of restaurants,” Malema said.
He also hit out at the government’s plans to reopen schools, urging parents not to take their children to schools until they had complied with health and safety standards.
Malema said pupils queued and made use of the same taps to drink water and travelled together, often in congested buses and taxis to get to school, which meant they were vulnerable to exposure even outside of their different places of learning.
“We are led by fools, non-thinkers, people sitting on top of their brains,” he added, saying the plans put in place reflected a government either not aware of the schooling system and its challenges in the country or were planning for elite institutions.
Malema, giving an anecdote of his own children, said children would not stick to wearing masks, adding when he tried it with his boys they took it off complaining of feeling suffocated.