Pepper spray was used in the public gallery of the National Assembly, National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise confirmed on Thursday after President Jacob Zuma delivered his state of the nation address.
Modise said there was a complaint from the Democratic Alliance after they walked out in protest ahead of the speech that teargas had been set off in the gallery.
A brief investigation found that it had in fact been pepper spray, she said, and apologised to the sitting and the guests.
“Whatever it was, it should not have happened,” she said.
Modise said the incident would be investigated fully.
The DA complained after the Economic Freedom Fighters were dragged from the chamber by security staff for heckling Zuma in scenes of violence the official opposition described as “sickening”.