Before former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa was shot in what is widely believed to have been an assassination attempt, EFF leader Julius Malema had offered him a position within the EFF.
Malema, speaking after his graduation ceremony at the Unisa in Pretoria where he received a BA honours degree in philosophy, said he had many meetings with Magaqa about his potential role in the struggle for economic freedom.
"Before he was shot I had a lot of meetings with him discussing whether he was still interested to pursue the struggle for economic emancipation and which other roles he can play in pursuit of the struggle for economic emancipation," said Malema.
Magaqa (35) died at a Durban hospital on Monday following an attack on July 13. He was a ward councillor in Umzimkhulu in KwaZulu-Natal at the time of his shooting.
"I told him many times to leave the ANC to come and be the national organiser of the EFF because I knew he loved the ground, I knew he loved working with ordinary people on the ground.
"He agreed with me and he said, 'Let me go and speak to my wife [and] my mother, this is done, I'm coming'. I was still waiting for him and this happened.
"I would have saved his life, I had a duty to save his life."
ANC 'set Magaqa up for failure'
Malema was responding to questions after the ANCYL in KwaZulu-Natal accused him of being "a person of ... low character" after he allegedly lied about being personally invited to attend Magaqa's funeral.
ANCYL provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo said Magaqa was "the kind of a person who saw good in someone as low as Malema, someone who will deliberately mislead society about a funeral invitation that he knows he never got and could never have gotten from the ANCYL in [the province]".
Malema shot back at the ANC, saying that he didn't need the ANC's permission to attend Magaqa's funeral.
"And I will attend the funeral if conditions allow, because in that funeral ... what is more painful about politics is that the people who kill you are the ones who are going to preside over your funeral," said Malema.
"And even If we don't attend Magaqa's funeral he will know that he occupies a special place in our heart. He will know that we would have wanted to bury him, but criminals would not allow [that]."
Malema added that the ANC now spoke very highly of Magaqa despite the fact they charged him and found him guilty for "speaking against corruption".
He also asked why a former secretary-general was made a village councillor and not a member of Parliament.
"Obviously they were setting him [up] for failure. They sent him back to the village, they knew he was not going to tolerate corruption and when he started fighting corruption those rank and files who are rooted in corruption then took his life."
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said a case of murder would be opened.
The Hawks issued identikits of two suspects in July.
"We are still after those suspects. Investigations continue," Mulaudzi said.