A Roodepoort man has found out what happens when you post a “disrespectful” meme of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on a community WhatsApp group.
Members of the ANC Ida Mntwana branch camped outside his house, singing, dancing and playing music for four hours on Friday, until the man emerged to explain his post – “he was drunk”.
The incensed members converged on the VooMart Garage in Witpoortjie, donning matching yellow, green and white ANC T-shirts with a beautiful image of a youthful Winnie Madikizela-Mandela printed on the front. An elegant “Rest in Peace Mbokodo” at the back added a glittering, final touch.
One would be forgiven for assuming that these comrades were mobilising before setting off to one of the many memorial services organised in Gauteng for the late struggle stalwart.
This was not the case. The incensed members wanted answers.
The man, who belonged to the same community WhatsApp group as the branch chairperson, Mduduzi Myeni, had posted an unsavoury image of the late struggle stalwart on Tuesday.
The image, posted a day after the announcement of the passing of the struggle icon, depicted Madikizela-Mandela in a pile of tyres, with a flame similar to that of a candle ablaze on top of her Photoshopped head.
Also included was a passport photo image of the late Stompie “Sepei” Moeketsi, framed in a tyre, and a box of matches. Madikizela was accused of being involved in Moeketsi’s death, but no direct evidence was found. In 1991, Madikizela-Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault.
“I could not believe the blatant racism and disrespect displayed towards the late struggle icon by this man,” an enraged Myeza said.
He added that shocked residents immediately demanded to know what the man was trying to achieve by posting such an image.
“In our culture we respect the dead and would not openly disrespect our elders in such a manner,” he said.
The man was instructed to apologise. By Friday he had not done so, leading to the ward members marching to his home.
“It did not have to come to this,” said a resident who asked to remain anonymous.
“This individual could have apologised and we would be on our way to Madikizela-Mandela’s residency in Soweto to mourn with the family, but no. Now we have to entertain a disrespectful, racist excuse of a person instead.”
While Myeza was mobilising the ANC members, he took out his phone to show journalists the image. To his surprise, he realised that he had been kicked off the community WhatsApp group.
“Instead of kicking the individual who is desecrating on the late Winnie’s name, I am the one being kicked out of the group. Clearly the administrator sympathises with the views of this person,” said a visibly bemused Myeza.
He went on to address the gathered ANC supporters. “Today we are paying our neighbour a visit. By the time we leave he will be wearing an ANC T-shirt and he will publicly apologise for the derogatory image he posted of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,” said Myeza.
Some of the protesters took tyres with them as they sang and danced towards the man’s home.
Tempers flared as they reached the residence. Some protesters wanted to burn tyres outside his home saying: “He [the man who posted the image] clearly suggested that Madikizela-Mandela should have been necklaced, so let’s show him that we are not here for games. We mean business.”
The Ida Mntwana leadership had their hands full trying to maintain the peace.
Consensus was reached. The members set up a gazebo and escaped from the scorching sun while others sat in their cars with the doors open, and played struggle songs at full blast. The more youthful protesters broke off branches from a large tree in front of the property and engaged in struggle dances in front of the gate.
“If he is not here we will wait for him. He will eventually come back,” explained Myeza.
Eventually, other Witpoortjie residents began to gather a few metres from where the ANC members had made themselves at home after numerous failed attempts at getting a response from anyone inside the home.
The police were called and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department broke the stalemate by knocking at the gate – and the man of the moment stumbled out of the house. The gathering expressed shock that, after spending nearly four hours outside the premises, he had not entertained their visit.
The ANC supporters gathered towards the gate to hand over their memorandum.
“I am sorry, I was drunk when I posted that image,” where the first words uttered by the man as he reached his gate, the stench of alcohol emanating from his mouth.
Those gathered advised him to use the same platform he had used to post the derogatory image for his apology.
“Let this be a lesson to anyone else who even thinks about dehumanising or humiliating our leadership – such behaviour will never be tolerated by ANC supporters,” said Myeza.