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Criminal charges laid against EFF

Charges of vandalism, trespassing & intimidation have been laid against EFF leaders.

Police try and stop members of the EFF from storming the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on 22 July 2014. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The acting secretary of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature has laid criminal charges of vandalism, trespassing and intimidation against the leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and individuals who took part in yesterday's sit-in at the government headquarters in Johannesburg.

Hundreds of EFF supporters, led by party leader Julius Malema, marched on the building yesterday to protest the removal of eight members in the provincial legislature earlier this month.

Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe had ordered police to remove the members due to slogans on their overalls allegedly contravening house rules.

The protest resulted in a dangerous stand-off with police after several EFF supporters forced their way into the building, breaking glass doors with their bare hands.

Eventually, action was taken to disperse the crowds, including firing rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas.

Acting secretary of the legislature Hlengiwe Bhengu says EFF leaders and supporters violated the National Key Points Act when they stormed the legislature yesterday afternoon.

She says video footage of the scuffles with police and the sit-in is currently being studied to determine who will be charged.

Bhengu says in addition to the criminal charges, presiding officers are considering further internal disciplinary action against the party.

EFF DENIES VANDALISING LEGISLATURE

But the EFF has denied its members were involved in acts of vandalism at the Gauteng Legislature.

The party has instead accused police of using live ammunition while trying to disperse them from the building.

Police, on the other hand, have denied using live ammunition saying they only fired teargas and rubber bullets.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702's John Robbie earlier on Wednesday, the party's Mgcini Tshwaku said its members are law abiding citizens.

"We were peaceful, we went inside. We didn't break anything and the police were actually beating us."