Johannesburg -

The police formed a ring of steel outside the Gauteng Provincial Legislature building to prevent another violent takeover of the premises by members of the EFF.

The legislature building was surrounded by police and Joburg metro police officers in their riot gear.

Various units were deployed and cars carrying barbed wire were on site to avert a repeat of a violent protest this week.

Chaos erupted on Tuesday in the legislature when EFF members led by their leader Julius Malema stormed into the building and, according to government officials, caused damage estimated at more than R1 million.

Government officials and MPLs have also laid criminal charges of theft, claiming they lost cellphones and laptops during the pandemonium.

The EFF was protesting against the decision of Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe on July 1 forbidding its members from entering the legislature’s chamber wearing their party’s red overalls and domestic workers’ attire.

At the time, Mekgwe ruled their dress code was inappropriate, which irked the EFF.

Police had to forcibly remove the eight MPLs from the chamber and some of them suffered injuries during the scuffle.

Yesterday their seats in the Gauteng House were empty.

On Tuesday, however, more than 2 000 EFF members found the police and legislature’s security staff wanting and at least 100 of them gained entrance into the building through the piazza.

They were led by Malema and his deputy Mpho Ramakatsa and went to the first floor of the building near the chamber and staged a sit-in for more than three hours.

Some EFF members helped themselves to food prepared for guests, saying it was paid for by their taxes.

Yesterday the SAPS, metro police and emergency services guarded every entrance to the building before Gauteng Premier David Makhura and MEC for Finance Barbara Creecy delivered their respective budget votes.

The law enforcement agencies were vigilant, particularly for EFF members wanting to disrupt the proceedings - but nothing happened.

During the legislature sitting, all parties including Makhura and acting Speaker Uhuru Moiloa called for criminal investigations against EFF members.

“I want to join the Deputy Speaker (Moiloa) in condemning the incidents on Tuesday, where members of the EFF stormed the legislature and caused extensive damage to state property.

“They have looted from the ordinary women and men selling food in the streets. Yet they claim to represent working class men and women,” he said.

“The EFF must decide whether it is part of the democratic institutions or not.”

Malema has threatened to return to the legislature to stage another sit-in if his members were not allowed in, saying he would bring more than 50 000 of his supporters.

- Saturday Star

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