Earlier this month the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was hailed for its commitment to helping the poor when the party’s president, Julius Malema, handed over a house they built for an elderly woman and her grandchildren in Nkandla. The EFF said building the house was part of the many outreach programs of the party aimed at improving vulnerable people’s conditions.
However, when it was revealed that the house was built a few hundred meters away from President Jacob Zuma’s homestead, the EFF’s philanthropic act was considered by some members of the public as a political stunt. On Sunday, the EFF’s motive for building the house became more questionable when the Sunday Times reported that its recipient, Ms S’thandiwe Hlongwane, was financially well-off.
According to Sunday Times, Ms Hlongwane is married to a senior archivist who earns around R250 000 per year and together with her husband, they own two other properties, a VW Polo and a Toyota Hilux. When asked why she accepted the house from the EFF, she said “They just wanted to help a poor family”. This incited the belief that either she misled the EFF or the party built the house for other motives.
However, the EFF released a statement indicating that the party was not misled by Ms Hlongwane and was aware of her financial circumstances. In a press statement, EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi criticized the Sunday Times and other newspapers for spreading the notion that the house was handed over to a rich family. He said, “These allegations are basically nonsensical and a deliberate failure to understand why the house was handed over.”
Ndlozi said before the EFF built the house for Ms Hlongwane, her children were sleeping in mud houses which had no furniture because she could not afford to build them a decent house. “It is our belief as EFF that no human being in South Africa should live in the mud houses which the Hlongwane family was using before we built them a house,” he said.
“Despite the sensationalism that the newspapers are spreading about our genuine intervention, EFF remains proud that we handed over a house with doors and decent furniture to the Hlongwane family”, Ndlozi added.