EFF to face criminal charges over ‘anarchy’Comment on this story
THERESA TAYLOR, LEBOGANG SEALE AND BALDWIN NDABA
Johannesburg - The EFF and their leader Julius Malema will face criminal charges after the “anarchy” they caused at the Gauteng Legislature on Tuesday.
The legislature were also set to meet on Wednesday to see what action they can take against Malema from within their ranks, as well as approach the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, to take action against him.
On Tuesday throngs of EFF members clashed with police and forced their way into the Gauteng Legislature building. Police had to resort to using force, including rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.
The EFF were protesting against the expulsion of their members of the provincial legislature (MPLs) earlier this month for wearing their red overalls and domestic workers’ uniforms.
On Wednesday morning, Deputy Speaker of the legislature, Uhuru Moiloa, said Malema had broken oaths he had taken when he was sworn into office and that they believed the actions of the EFF could be ruled as contravening the National Key Point Act as the legislature was a key point.
He said thus far, charges of theft, trespassing and malicious damage to property had been opened.
“We are totally disgusted and outraged by that behaviour,” said Moiloa. “Malema has once more displayed himself as a commander-in-chief of anarchy and he needs to be condemned in the strongest way possible.”
But EFF Gauteng caucus leader Mgcini Tshwaku said while it was the democratic right of the legislature to lay charges, they believed the EFF had acted peacefully.
He said they would return to the legislature on Friday, again in their overalls.
He said the Speaker of the legislature, Ntombi Mekgwe, had tried to block the EFF from following the mandate laid out to them by the 500 000 people who voted for them in the province.
“(The legislature) must be warned, we will activate those 500 000 people. They must not undermine the power of that mandate,” he said.
The EFF’s protest was also aimed at highlighting their annoyance with the expulsion of their MPs in Cape Town for Malema’s “unparliamentary” conduct, after he refused to withdraw his statements accusing the ANC-led government of being liable for the killing of mineworkers in Marikana in the North West.
As Malema and dozens of his party’s members staged a sit-in at the legislature, the police – including those from the Tactical Response Team and public order police – fought running battles with hundreds of red-clad members outside, who also threatened to force their way in.
In a day of pandemonium, the rattling sound of gunshots echoed through the legislature precinct as the police fired volleys of stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas as they battled to disperse the unruly EFF supporters, who threatened to break into the building and join Malema and several other members, including MPLs who had already stormed the building.
Tshwaku on Wednesday morning repeated the EFF’s claim that the police used live ammunition against their members.
But police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini denied this.
Malema had, following a decision by Mekgwe to expel the EFF MPLs on July 1, announced his intention to lead his members to march against the ANC. He lived up to his promise on Tuesday.
Malema and the MPLs broke through a human chain of police officers guarding the legislature entrance in Rissik Street, before they stormed through the piazza into the building at noon.
They marched through the first floor of the building leading to the entrance to the chamber.
But the legislature’s security guards quickly locked all the entrances to avoid proceedings being disrupted.
Malema then led his supporters in a sit-in that lasted late into the evening. This happened as various Gauteng MECs were tabling their budget votes. At one stage, the EFF members helped themselves to the food meant for the MPLs and people observing proceedings from the public gallery.
The chaotic scenes, which disrupted traffic in the CBD, started at 9am when EFF members descended on Braamfontein before their march.
They toyi-toyied around the intersection of Rissik and Smit streets – one of the major arteries of Joburg’s Park Station transport hub.
President Jacob Zuma, National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise and Mekgwe were the targets of the EFF’s anger and caricatures. Some hoisted a mock mannequin of Zuma wearing a disposable nappy, while others flashed placards denouncing the government.
“The ANC government killed mineworkers in Marikana,” one placard read.
Others placards read: “Thandi ‘Lady Gaga’ Modise, stop killing innocent animals. Please destroy e-tolls and Nkandla”; “Parliament is not a fashion parade”; “Legislature is about ideologies and not expensive clothes”.
Chants of “Juju! Juju!” signalled the arrival of Malema as he disembarked from a Mercedes- Benz S-Class. Dozens of police officers, some on horseback, escorted EFF supporters to the legislature.
Once there, they were met by dozens of police who had formed a human chain at the entrance. Malema and scores of his members then broke through the chain before forcing open the door and going inside to stage their sit-in.
Malema, who earlier told the police he and his members were ready to die, was forced out by stun grenades at about 6pm. By 7pm, only police were seen guarding the building.
“They had a problem with asijiki (the EFF’s slogan, meaning “no retreat”) on the overalls. Now, our members have arrived with the plain overalls, Mekgwe must allow them in. We are not going anywhere,” Malema insisted.