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Stun grenades thrown in legislature

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Police fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse defiant members of the Economic Freedom Fighters at the Gauteng legislature in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening.

Stun grenades were thrown inside the foyer of the Gauteng legislature where EFF leader Julius Malema and others were refusing to move.

A Sapa multi-media reporter, who was inside the legislature, said a stun grenade was thrown and then Malema was escorted out.

Malema had been sitting in the foyer of the legislature building, refusing to leave.

EFF members earlier said Malema would not leave the building until he had met legislature Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe. Malema apparently refused to meet the deputy speaker.

Several people, including Malema, were injured. Malema was hit by an object thrown from the crowd.

National co-ordinator Mpho Ramakatsane came out of the legislature limping and media liaison officer Lerato Motsa was hit on the leg.

Motsa said Malema was not badly injured and he managed to whisk away a member who was shot at and fell on the ground.

“The commander-in-chief is fine,” she said.

Party members looted hawkers’ stalls, burnt a mobile police satellite station and broke windows of several shops on their way to Braamfontein, where they assembled in the morning.

Malema had led about 2000 members to the legislature to protest against the removal of their MPLs during a sitting on July 1, for wearing red overalls with “Asijik [we will not retract]”, inscribed on the back.

Protesters waved placards, reading: “Thandi Modise leave our members alone. Parliament is not a fashion parade.”

The poster referred to an incident in Parliament where Malema and his MPs were ordered out for refusing to withdraw his statement that the government killed people in Marikana near Rustenburg, North West.

Another poster read: “Forward overalls, forward.”

The party has vowed to wear worker overalls and gum boots in Parliament and provincial legislatures to identify with the workers.

On their way to the legislature, EFF members defied the police by refusing to turn right into De Villiers Street, and continued straight on to Rissik Street facing oncoming traffic.

On arrival they broke through the police cordon and stormed into the building.

They vowed not to leave until their MPLs were allowed back in the legislature.

Malema arrived in a silver Mercedes-Benz, dressed in a red party T-shirt and a red beret with a Palestinian scarf over his shoulder.

The Gauteng legislature said it viewed the EFF incident as unfortunate and a deliberate attempt to disrupt the House sitting.

Acting Speaker, Uhuru Moiloa, said EFF members forced entry into the legislature and embarked on illegal activities within the premises, including looting food catered for the sitting, assaulting members of SA Police Service, throwing broken bottles at the legislature building, and vandalising legislature property in the effort to gain entrance into the House.

“The standing rules of the legislature forbids MPLs from dressing in contempt of the rules. Once elected the MPLs serve all the people of Gauteng regardless of their political affiliations,” Moiloa said.

He said the EFF were dressed in contravention of the rules during the opening of the legislature in Thokoza on June 27, and were warned against this behaviour as it was not allowed during sittings.

He said Malema had been expected to hand over a memorandum to him at 11.30am.

Instead Malema and his party members forced their entry into the chamber and attempted to disrupt the proceedings of the House.

He said that despite the EFF’s violent action, which posed a threat to the safety of the representatives of the people of Gauteng, MPLs and employees within the precinct, the House Sitting had continued as planned. SAPA

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