'Many black people will die': Malema disapproves of level 3 lockdown move

EFF leader Julius Malema said the move down to level 3 of lockdown was premature and the country was not ready to do so.

EFF leader Julius Malema. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said South Africa was not ready to move down the lockdown levels and that in doing so, government had put the lives of the poor black majority in danger of contracting the coronavirus in places like schools and workplaces.

Malema hosted a virtual press conference on Thursday from the party's headquarters.

He said the poor black majority, who didn't have access to quality private health care and relied on public facilities, would bear the brunt and be worst hit by the coronavirus.

"Many black people will get sick and die, and no one will know how," he said. "Government has not renovated any hospital or given any significant improvements. Admittedly, even the misguided 'events based temporal' quarantine centres will not meet the demand that is coming.

"However, people in black communities who could have lived another 10 years, will die. Not because they have bad immune systems, but because they did not get healthcare. The white community and some insignificant minority blacks elite will rely on private healthcare; which are fully functional, fully resourced and ready to give them a fighting chance."

Malema said the move down to level 3 of the lockdown was premature and the country was not ready to do so.

He added that President Cyril Ramaphosa had surrendered the country and its people to the virus.

"By telling the whole country that 'it is now in your hands', Ramaphosa was rendering his resignation as captain of the ship, the number one citizen and Commander in Chief. He turned his back on his constitutional oath to protect human rights, chief among which is the right to life."

As schools prepare to welcome pupils back on 1 June, Malema said his party believed this was a mistake.

"The EFF believes that schools must not be opened because non-negotiable conditions have not been complied with across the majority of South Africa."

The party has demanded that government provide adequate infrastructure before reopening schools.

This includes guaranteed infrastructure for teaching and learning including additional classrooms, which could be converted to public halls, mobile classes and other safe public spaces, which will ensure that the teacher to learner ratio is 1:20.

"Guarantee clean water supply for all school and guarantee sanitation, emphatically clean toilets for all schools, including those that did not have toilets before the advent of COVID-19," Malema said.

WATCH: Malema hosts virtual press conference