Presidency: It was police who removed EFF MPs
Jeff Radebe has defended the use of police officers to eject EFF MPs from the National Assembly.
CAPE TOWN - Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe has admitted that police officers were among a group of plain-clothed security officials who physically removed Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) MPs from the National Assembly on Thursday evening.
Chaos erupted during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Security officers were called in to remove EFF members after interrupting the president's speech, asking when he would pay back some of the money spent on security upgrades at Zuma's Nkandla homestead as recommended by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
Radebe says what happened was despicable, but should not be seen as a reflection of all members of the house.
The minister says he remains proud to be a member of ANC and Parliament, but is disappointed and disgusted by the behaviour of the EFF
Radebe says the speaker was empowered by law to call the police.
"She invoked the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act that empowers the speaker or the chair of the National Council of Provinces to call security services who are described in section 199 of the Constitution, including the police," says Radebe.
"My understanding is some of those forces are members of the South African Police Service." Watch: Night of chaos at Sona 2015
Watch: Night of chaos at Sona 2015
EFF leader Julius Malema says he and his fellow his MPs will be laying assault charges against the security officers.
The EFF party leader describes the mayhem that ensued after they were removed from the chamber.
"One of our members is still in hospital and it looks like she will have to go for operation as well. You know that lady, I saw her but I couldn't do anything because I was also held by those heavy men. They were beating me up. I saw them beating her up on her face with a shoe." Picture: @tokelonhlapo via Twitter
Picture: @tokelonhlapo via Twitter
Shortly before Zuma delivered his address, cellphone reception was blocked and many people couldn't access WiFi.
Service was restored after chants of " bring back the signal" from opposition benches but there are now calls for an investigation into the matter. Watch: 'Bring back the signal'
Watch: 'Bring back the signal'
Journalists and editors have also complained about the Parliamentary TV feed. When plain-clothed security officials removed the EFF MPs, Parliament's cameras were focused on the presiding officers.
The secretary to Parliament told Eyewitness News they regret scrambling the mobile phone signal.
At the same time, the Democratic Alliance (DA) says following last night's Parliamentary mayhem, it's clear Zuma is not fit to be president.
DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane and his entire DA caucus walked out of the chamber after failing to get clarity from the presiding officers on whether the men, dressed in white shirts and black trousers, were police or Parliamentary security staff. Watch: DA walks out of National Assembly
Watch: DA walks out of National Assembly
The official opposition party labelled what happened last night as an embarrassment for the people of South Africa.