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'Scrambling of Sona cellphone signal regrettable'

The Secretary to Parliament says the cellphone signal jamming incident will be investigated.

President Jacob Zuma makes his way up the steps towards Parliament while the ceremonial guard stands at attention. With him is Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The secretary to Parliament says it is regrettable that there appeared to be an issue with the mobile phone signal in the National Assembly chamber ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday.

Shortly before Zuma delivered his address, cellphone coverage dropped 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'

Journalists and editors have also complained about the Parliamentary TV feed. When plain-clothed security officials removed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs), Parliament's cameras were focused on the presiding officers.

Parliament's Secretary Gengezi Mgidlana says there will be an investigation.

"Allow the process to go through so that we can do an investigation, learn from this particular exercise and make sure that this never happens in our country."

Earlier, Defence Minister Noziviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told Eyewitness News she was not aware the cellphone signal to the National Assembly was jammed.

MPs and journalists say the constitutional right to freedom of information was breached.

Mapisa-Nqakula chairs the government's security cluster.

"I wasn't aware. Anyway, I have nothing to do with matters of technology so I don't know whether it was jammed deliberately or not. What I do know is that democratic forces of South Africa, the people who fought for this liberation, have won."

At the same time, Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane is calling on the chamber to identity the security officials who forcibly removed the EFF MPs.

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

EFF leader Julius Malema says seven MPs were injured in the scuffle, and that one, Reneilwe Mashabela, was taken to hospital last night.

Maimane says that while the EFF MPs should have obeyed the speaker's ruling, their violent removal was also wrong.

"There were men who came in dressed like waiters who then acted in an unparliamentary and unconstitutional manner. They were armed and nobody could tell us who they were."