OPINION: 'Thuggish' ways will lose Malema votes

Firing weapons in the air has been practised the world over for centuries to honour those men and women in the defence or police force who are killed while in service of their country. It is the badge of honour that those departed will wear as their bodies are lowered into the ground.

In townships across the country, the firing of weapons in the open – be it at funerals or in public – is often fashioned by thugs to show their force. Those who have made a big score (stolen big) will celebrate their windfall with never-ending parties, where food and drinks are in abundance. Shots are fired as such jols continue way into the night.

More shots are fired at funerals when one of their own is killed, possibly in the line of their thuggery. Such acts often pit the families of the deceased against their friends. But in most cases the thugs win the battle and do as they please at the graveside – spinning cars and firing shots in the air, followed by heavy drinking and partying after the funeral.

These kinds of scenes have been normalised in our townships and continue unabated to this day. Thugs continue to be celebrated, feared, revered and rule with impunity. Their actions are the envy of the youth who only see the thugs’ opulent lifestyle as the best thing ever and the easiest way to make it big in life.

In a packed stadium in Mdantsane near East London last Saturday, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) celebrated its fifth anniversary. EFF leader Julius Malema led his lieutenants and supporters in song and addressed the crowd. The stadium was fired up when music blared from the speakers after the formalities. Malema and his top brass were on stage while the masses danced and sang on the stands. A video, taken from the stage, shows Malema holding an automatic weapon and firing it in the air – much to the delight of those on stage with him and the thousands more inside the stadium. It was a sign of bravado for Malema.

Malema played to the gallery and was overcome with the excitement of seeing the sea of red in front of him. And in that moment, he felt that letting loose the firearm would be the icing on the cake. But that was a wrong move. The crowd had already enjoyed the cake without the icing and didn’t need Malema to fire a gun in the open – a criminal act in the country.

Some have already laid charges against him, adding to others he faces for his reckless way with words.

While the crowd might have idolised his act on that stage, the many potential voters his party is trying to win are asking themselves why they should follow a leader who has thuggish tendencies.

And all that happened while his top brass watched and cheered him on.

Follow me on Twitter @DumisaneLubisi