Parliament – Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe on Tuesday appealed to MPs to "find their moral compass" and help restore decorum in Parliament.
Opening the debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA), Radebe described last week's fist fights between Economic Freedom Fighters MPs and members of the parliamentary protection services after the former refused to leave the National Assembly chamber when ordered to do so, as "highly regrettable".
"The members of this House must pride themselves in their excellent service to the people of this country," he said, asking MPs to put South Africans before their political aspirations.
"The time has come for all of us to restore the dignity and decorum of this prestigious House."
Radebe bemoaned the fact that a 12-year-old praise singer was "drowned out by heckling and jeering adults who are supposed to be leaders of South African society", while also speaking out against profanities "spewed in this House with reckless abandon".
Before he took to the podium, Speaker Baleka Mbete reported back to MPs on several concerns raised by MPs during last week's SONA.
Mbete said the violent removal of the EFF MPs had been referred to the joint rules committee of Parliament for processing.
The release of a "powdery substance" in the public gallery, which affected both guests and MPs, was also under investigation, she said. "The item was retrieved and handed to relative authorities for testing," said Mbete. "We confirm however that is was not teargas or pepper spray."
She said the "small packet" was retrieved, and Parliament was still awaiting the outcome of tests to determine exactly what the substance was.
EFF leader Julius Malema's concerns that Parliament's protection officers were intending to use cable ties to restrain his party's MPs was referred to the police for investigation, Mbete said.
She chided MPs who were heard shouting profanities as the drama unfolded during the SONA saying it "sets a bad example to the nation", but said it was difficult to name these MPs as the expletives were not uttered into the microphone.