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‘South Africans should be worried by Malema’s attack statements’

Julius Malema ordered EFF members and supporters to attack a group of Sasco members.

FILE: Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema addressed Tshwane Uiversity of Technology Students in Soshanguve and a fight erupted between students ofhis party and Sasco members. Picture: EFF Official Account ‏@EconFreedomZA."

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) says South Africans should be "very worried" now that Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has publicly announced his red berets will not tolerate disruptions by other parties and will attack if provoked.

This week Malema ordered EFF members and supporters to attack a group of South African Students Congress (Sasco) members at the Tshwane University of Technology when they tried to disrupt a campaign meeting.

Police eventually fired stun grenades to break up the fight between the rival groups.

Malema has defended his order to attack saying law enforcement takes too long to investigate complaints laid by the party.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says this proves the EFF has no regard for the rule of law.

"I think we must all be worried because political intolerance in South Africa has huge print. If the EFF wants to use universities to establish a footprint [of] violence it will create a particular character in the student politics."

Meanwhile, the Higher Education Department says it is extremely concerned by what its described as the de-generation of student politics into violence.

The department says a physical fight between members of Sasco and the EFF this week represents behaviour that is unbecoming of higher education students.

The department's spokesperson Khanye Nkwanyana says students must display a certain level of maturity when contesting SRC elections.

"In as much as they have qa right to political activities they represent a particular section that should be exhibiting the high level of patience and tolerance. Whatever differences they might have they must manage those within the framework of democratic process."

Yesterday, Malema said didn't regret instructing members of his party's student division to attack rival Sasco members.

The EFF claimed Sasco members pelted them with stones and other objects.

However, Sasco accused the EFF of refusing to follow campaign rules by holding unauthorised gatherings.

Malema said if faced with another violent situation, he won't hesitate to instruct members to defend themselves.

"I'll do it again, there's no one who's going to attack me and expect me to fold my arms or run away. If we run away the EFF will have no space to operate in this country."

The EFF leader also said he will tell his members to attack ANC supporters again if they are threatened.

He said he was happy to use the word "attack" again if he had to.

"I still use it now: Attack. We must attack. Anyone who attacks us we must attack back, we are not going to retreat."

And he said it's not his party that disrupted ANC meetings.

"We never start any attack, everywhere we go, it was the same thing in 2014 and it is the same thing in 2015. They are preparing to do the same thing in 2016."

ANC supporters have previously disrupted other EFF events while they have also been pictured tearing a blue t-shirt off a Democratic Alliance supporter.