Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was "astounded" to find a turd on the floor in front of his bench in parliament.
Buthelezi hastily moved from his seat in the front row of the opposition benches after Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena, the leader of Azapo, noticed the excrement at the IFP leader's feet.
After arriving late while President Thabo Mbeki was addressing the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon, Buthelezi raised eyebrows when he stood up to sit alongside Democratic Alliance MP Sheila Camerer.
"When I arrived, Minister Mangena pointed and said 'Look, look'," Buthelezi explained.
After Mbeki left the chamber, several cabinet ministers, MPs, senior parliamentary staff and police officers gathered around a visibly shocked Buthelezi as he pointed to the offending object.
Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu hugged Buthelezi while Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula and Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula were among those who tried to comfort their former cabinet colleague.
"I don't know what to make of it - I'm neither hot nor cold. I'm just astounded that it should come to this in this holiest of holies," Buthelezi said.
His IFP colleagues expressed disgust that their leader had been subjected to such humiliating treatment.
Asked whether he thought there was any malicious intent behind the incident, Buthelezi said: "Well, I don't know, I'm not a prophet and I'm not a sangoma."
The secretary to parliament, Zingile Dingani, said police would have to explain the incident as they had used sniffer dogs during a routine security sweep before Mbeki entered the chamber.
"They were the ones who threw everyone out and they were the last inside here - they must call the dog unit in to come and explain what happened here," he said.
Senior Superintendent Roger Hitchcock of the South African Police Service's parliamentary protection unit said an investigation would be launched immediately.
"We have an idea of what happened," he said.