Malema and his entourage had arrived in two cars at Wonderkop stadium to address striking Lonmin workers, but was forced to leave after a brief stand-off with police monitoring proceedings.
The expelled ANC Youth League president was escorted out of the area by at least 10 police vehicles, with a helicopter hovering above.
Malema and his aides were about to walk into the stadium when a throng of police officers cut the group off and informed them that he was not welcome.
The firebrand – who seemed surprised at the turn of events – tried to plead with the police to let him through as he was “only an ordinary citizen attending a legal meeting”, but the law enforcement officers would have none of it.
Copy of malema at marikana
Malema is pulled to his car. Photo: Phill Magakoe
Malema turned and walked towards the Nkaneng informal settlement, but was again stopped in his tracks by the police.
“I’ve walked away [from the stadium]. Are you now [limiting] my movement?” Malema asked.
An officer who had been in an altercation with Malema earlier said: “Mr Malema, I want you out of this place. I am going to arrest you if you don’t leave.”
A frustrated Malema was seen throwing a hand in the air as he continued walking towards the scene of the massacre in which 34 miners perished at the hands of the police a month ago.
On several occasions, police blocked his way, and two Nyalas were used to obstruct him at one point. A command could be heard echoing through police radios, ordering repeatedly: “Escort him out of the area… Escort him out of the area!”
Things seemed to be steadily getting out of control as about 30 heavily armed police officers surrounded Malema, his bodyguards and suspended youth league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa.
During the exchange, a member of Malema’s entourage shouted that he’d heard officers saying, “let’s isolate him and shoot him”, in reference to the former youth leader.
Malema started shouting repeatedly at one of the officers: “[Does] this man want to shoot me? Does this man want to shoot me?”
Magaqa and Malema’s bodyguards then had to restrain Malema, bundling him into his car.
The police saw the group off and did not return until Malema’s vehicles had disappeared down the N4.
Hundreds of strikers rose to their feet and shouted “Let’s go fetch him”, on hearing news of the incident, but were persuaded not to.
Malema refused to comment on Monday, but said he would hold a press conference at the Holiday Inn Express in Sandton on Tuesday.
Striking miners asked the media to leave the stadium while they discussed whether to settle with Lonmin.
Speaking on behalf of miners, Bishop Jo Seoka said they were hoping the strike would end after another round of salary negotiations that were to be held last night.
Seoka said the employees, who had been demanding wages of R12 500, would table a revised offer. It is believed that the strikers have lowered their demands, hence they wanted the media to leave.
Meanwhile, legal experts have dismissed accusations that the government has imposed an undeclared state of emergency by deploying the army in its crackdown in the violence-hit mining sector, calling it a case of “politicians engaging in hyperbole”.
Zuma – who is obliged under the constitution to inform Parliament promptly of any decision to deploy troops – is still officially to notify the legislature of his decision.
SANDF troops entered Marikana on Saturday as part of the crackdown announced last week by Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe on illegal gatherings, the carrying of dangerous weapons, incitement and threats of violence.
Constitutional law expert Paul Hoffman said the law allowed the president to deploy troops and inform Parliament later.
“The police are all hands to the pumps and need extra help. There is a big under-utilised military base next door.”