JOHANNESBURG (AP) —
South Africa’s leftist opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, held anti-racism protests in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town over the death in the U.S. of George Floyd after a white police officer knelt on his neck.
The party’s firebrand leader, Julius Malema, also charged that South Africa has a problem with racism and brutality perpetrated by its own police and army.
In Johannesburg about 100 protesters closed a major thoroughfare in front of the U.S. consulate. They knelt in the street for eight minutes and 46 seconds, to mark the time that the American police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck. The South African protesters held up Black Lives Matter placards.
Malema, leading the protest at the U.S Embassy in the nation’s capital, Pretoria, was joined by the widow of Collins Khosa, a South African man who died after allegedly being assaulted by soldiers enforcing the country’s strict lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Khosa was allegedly beaten by soldiers because he was found drinking beer at his home, which was legal during the lockdown although sales of alcohol was prohibited. The incident happened more than two months ago at Khosa’s home in Johannesburg’s poor Alexandra township.
The opposition party has offered legal fees to help Khosa’s family press a court case against the army for his death, said Malema. He said the government has not properly responded to Khosa’s death, as the army has already absolved its members of any blame.
“We are in the second phase of suing the state on behalf of the family. We are more than convinced that the judges will be on our side,” said Malema, according to the news website News24. “It was brutality and abuse of power and we don’t associate with that,”