The use of pepper spray in the public gallery of the National Assembly amid violent scenes on the chamber floor on Thursday, as Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs were physically removed for disrupting President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address, was a security breach, Parliament said.
Earlier National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise confirmed the use of the pepper spray as various MPs, including Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, complained of smelling “teargas”.
“The reported use of pepper spray in the public gallery of the National Assembly (NA) Chamber will be investigated fully and is regarded as a security breach,” Parliament said in a statement issued late on Thursday night.
Both Modise and Mbete had ordered a full probe, with investigators expected to provide a full report 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,” the statement added.
Several people were injured when EFF MPs clashed with security forces inside the NA chamber and in the hallways of Parliament, where glass shards from shattered windows and artworks were seen being swept up following the fracas.
– African News Agency (ANA)