Chair apologises for use of pepper spray during #Sona2017 brawl

Guests scrambled for the exits after the forced eviction of EFF MPs while President Jacob Zuma was waiting to deliver his Sona.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address on 9 February 2017. Picture: YouTube screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise says the use of pepper spray in the public gallery of the National Assembly was a breach of security and should never have happened.

Guests scrambled for the exits after the forced eviction of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) in the chamber where President Jacob Zuma was waiting to deliver his State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Modise apologised to MPs and guests for the incident.

“I wish to apologise to the members of the joint sitting, our public in the gallery and our esteemed guests for an incident which cannot be classified as anything other than a breach of security. The members on the benches of the Democratic Alliance (DA) said that there was tear gas sprayed. On a quick investigation, the secretary to Parliament was told it was actually pepper spray. Whatever it was, it should not have happened in this Parliament.”

WATCH: EFF ejected from Parliament. Here's what led up to the drama


Zuma finally delivered his State of the Nation Address, concentrating on the economy, wage talks, Eskom and the national minimum wage, saying that there needs to be radical social economic transformation.

The President said there needs to be radical change.

“We need fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy.”

He said white households are earning far more than their black counterparts.

Added to this, ownership needs to be corrected with the JSE an example of white dominance.

“In terms of the 2015-16 information submitted to the Employment Equity Commission, the representation of whites at top management level amounted to 72%, whilst African representation was at 10%.”

He said that better economic growth is expected this year.

“Indications are that we have entered a period of recovery. We anticipate an economic growth rate of 1.3% in 2017.”

The president said that the minimum wage will also help many households.

“We congratulate the deputy president and Nedlac for this milestone and wish them well for work that still needs to be done.”

WATCH: President Zuma delivers #Sona2017

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)