EFF faces public violence charges

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iol news pic july22 ST EFF march 132 INLSA EFF members marched to the Gauteng Legislature, demanding that their members be allowed to wear their uniforms during a sitting. Photo: Motlabana Monnakgotla/The Star

Johannesburg - Criminal charges have been laid against the Economic Freedom Fighters for their behaviour in the Gauteng legislature, police said on Wednesday.

 "Charges of public violence and malicious damage to property were opened at the Johannesburg Central police station," Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said.

He said no arrests had been made.

The legislature said it had laid criminal charges against the EFF on Tuesday night, after the party's members, including its leader Julius Malema, stormed into the building.

"We have opened charges of trespassing, damage to property, and intimidation," the legislature's acting secretary Hlengiwe Bhengu said.

She said the charges related to the EFF's forced entry into the legislature, looting food catered for the sitting, assaulting police officers, throwing broken bottles at the building, and vandalising legislature property.

Malema led about 2000 red-clad members to the legislature on Tuesday to protest over the ejection of their MPLs from a sitting because they wore red overalls bearing slogans.

Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe ordered them out of the House on July 1
for wearing red overalls with "asijiki" (we do not retreat) inscribed on the back.

Bhengu said Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi and another person also opened criminal cases against the EFF.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse EFF supporters at the legislature on Tuesday evening. Stun grenades were thrown inside the foyer.

Several people, including Malema, were injured. Malema was hit by an object thrown from the crowd.

EFF national co-ordinator Mpho Ramakatsa came out of the legislature limping. The party's media liaison officer Lerato Motsa was hit on the leg.

Motsa said Malema was not badly injured and he managed to whisk away a member who was shot at and fell to the ground.

"The commander-in-chief is fine," she said.

Party supporters allegedly looted hawkers' stalls, burnt a mobile police satellite station, and broke windows of several shops on their way to Braamfontein, where they assembled in the morning.

On their way to the legislature, they defied police by refusing to turn right into De Villiers Street, and continued straight on to Rissik Street into oncoming traffic.

On arrival at the legislature they broke through the police cordon and stormed into the building. They vowed not to leave until their MPLs were allowed back into the legislature.



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