Denise Williams
1 minute read
9 Feb 2017
11:38 pm

Pepper spray was a security breach, parliament confirms

Denise Williams

The legislature will be conducting a probe to determine how the spray ended up being used.

Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu outside parliament on February 9 2017 during the state of the nation address. Picture: Alaister Russell

The use of pepper spray on members of the public gallery was a security breach and would be fully investigated.

In a statement released just before 11pm, parliament said even though an initial investigation had proven the use of the toxic spray, a deeper probe was needed.

Earlier the violence and mayhem erupted inside and outside the chamber, with MPs leaving bloodied.

Speaking on behalf of the Executive Authority of Parliament, National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise said presiding officers and the secretary of parliament would be reporting back to a joint sitting of Parliament.

“The disruption of the joint sitting tonight, accompanied by physical violence in the Chamber, infringed on the rights of and responsibilities of Members of Parliament and the public – in the NA Chamber and those wanting to follow the address on television and other media,” she said.

Earlier, EFF leader Julius Malema had MPs and the gallery in fits of laughter after arguing that they faced the threat of “biological warfare”.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the violent saga showed the nation that the ANC under Jacob Zuma had broken Parliament, broken the Constitution and broken the country.

“The violence in Parliament tonight does nothing for the millions of South Africans still living in poverty, and without hope. They must be disheartened and appalled at the events of this evening,” he said adding that the mission to unseat Zuma was even now more urgent than ever.

“Parliament ought to be a place where the public can engage with issues facing our nation. It is deplorable that ordinary members of the public were pepper sprayed while attending this evenings sitting.”

Maimane intends to brief media tomorrow on what he intends to do and what action will be taken.