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Mbete clarifies use of white substance in public gallery during #Sona2017

Last week, guests and dignitaries were engulfed in fumes of the powder that reportedly had the same effect as teargas.

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.

CAPE TOWN – National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete says a white substance released in the public gallery during the State of the Nation Address (Sona) has been sent for analysis.

Last week, guests and dignitaries were engulfed in fumes of the powder that reportedly had the same effect as teargas.

Mbete has however confirmed no traces of pepper spray could be found.

Members of Parliament (MPs) started a debate on President Jacob Zuma’s Sona on Tuesday.

Mbete addressed issues of concern stemming from last week’s opening of Parliament.

“A powdery substance was indeed dropped in the gallery. It was contained in a small packet. The item was retrieved and handed over to the relevant authorities for testing.”

She further elaborated on allegations of cable ties reserved for use on Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members.

“We’ve referred the matter to the police for investigation.”

Mbete added, presiding officers have requested Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula provide clarity on the presence of armed soldiers in within the Parliamentary precinct.

[WATCH] “F#ck you!” Sona 2017 descends into chaotic screaming match

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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