EFF leader Julius Malema on Saturday tweeted a tribute to his grandmother, Sarah Malema, who passed away on Saturday morning.

“Our pillar of strength has fallen, the great tree that provided cooling shades of comfort, love and stability have been uprooted, forever, from our lives. I love you, my confidant…” Malema said. 

The EFF confirmed Sarah Malema’s passing in a statement on Saturday. 

“The EFF is saddened to learn of the passing of Koko Sarah Malema, the CIC Julius Malema’s grandmother who passed away this morning at her home in Seshego, Polokwane. It is with a heavy heart that we receive this news, knowing that just three weeks ago, the Malemas buried one of their aunts, the daughter of Koko Sarah,” the statement read.  

Malema was raised by his grandmother after his mother Florah died following an epileptic fit.

By Saturday afternoon, Malema had received well over 1 000 messages of support on his Twitter account. 

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela tweeted: “I can’t say I fully appreciate the depths of your grief @Julius_S_Malema but what I can say is we share your grief and honour you for the quality of life you gave your Koko.”

The EFF said: “We send our revolutionary condolences on behalf of the entire Economic Emancipation Movement to [Malema], the entire Malema family, their relatives and friends. The greatest matriarch and pillar of their strength has fallen; the great tree that provided cooling shades of comfort, love and stability has been uprooted, forever, from their lives.” 

The firebrand politician has always been close to his grandmother. In 2017, he told Metro FM that she made him apologise to Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor for a comment he had made about her accent in 2009. 

At the municipal elections in 2016, Sarah Malema accompanied the EFF leader to vote at the Mponegele Primary School – which he attended as a child – in his home town of Seshego‚ outside Polokwane. 

“We wish him and his family, many of which are also EFF activists, a heart of strength and comfort,” the EFF said. 

“We are in close contact with the family and the CIC and shall continue to update the entire country of all funeral preparations and details thereof.” 

The EFF said Malema was still expected to address the Tshela Thupa Rally at Orlando Stadium on Sunday at 10:00.

In this video interview with Jacaranda FM in 2015, Malema speaks about growing up with his grandmother. 

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