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Fri Dec 19 22:11:51 SAST 2014

Shirt happens: Juju worse for wear

SIPHO MASOMBUKA | 14 February, 2013 00:20
Expelled African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema

Juju, the clothing range inspired by expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, has suffered the same fate as the political life of its inspiration.

In January last year, when Malema was all the rage, enterprising Pretoria fashion designer Obakeng Ramabodu unveiled a collection of 5000 brightly coloured T-shirts and 5000 caps emblazoned with Malema in mid-roar. The future looked bright for the label: 1480 sets (cap and T-shirt) had been sold, at R350 a set, three months after its launch.

The label became a familiar sight on the streets of the Pretoria CBD, catapulting the designer to celebrity status but the range has since joined Malema in the doldrums.

Ramabodu said he had to halt production because nobody wanted to be seen wearing the range "to protect their interests or jobs, and [because] Malema is under siege".

Malema is facing charges of money laundering, racketeering and corruption. SARS is investigating him for tax evasion and has applied to have his estate sequestrated to recover a R16-million tax debt.

Ramabodu said: "I approached clothing shops to sell my range but they all refused, saying they did not want to be [on a collision course ] with the ANC because the label was perceived as political," he said.

Ramabodu added that a member of the ANC's national executive committee advised him to replace the Juju label with a cabbage at the January 8 ANC rally in Durban.

The designer will launch an events management company on Saturday.


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