Parliament probes SONA pepper spray incident
TMG Digital | 2017-02-10 09:03:16.0
Security officials remove members of the Economic Freedom Fighters during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town, South Africa February 9, 2017.
Image by: SUMAYA HISHAM
Footage is being reviewed to trace who set off “pepper-spray” during the state of the nation address on Thursday night.
Parliament’s acting spokesperson‚ Manelisi Wolela‚ said on Friday morning that a “powder” had been dropped from the public gallery and had not originated from its protection services personnel.
“It seems this pepper spray‚ when some members were being taken out of the house‚ somebody dropped in something… which acted like a pepper spray‚ which created so much discomfort amongst so many people that were there‚” he told Radio 702.
Members of the EFF were forcibly ejected from the chamber after an hour of disruptions had threatened to derail President Jacob Zuma’s speech.
“What has happened there is just someone in the gallery seems to have dropped in a certain powder which triggered sneezing‚ coughing and really bad discomfort on the part of guests and members of Parliament.”
This‚ Wolela said‚ “is completely unacceptable and Parliament has condemned that action”.
On tracking down the culprit‚ he said footage was being review and that “it is probably one of the people within the public gallery. In terms of evidence that has been collected‚ we may be able to go exactly to who was placed at what point there because clearly… everyone has a seat number there”.
On the performance of the presiding officers in Parliament‚ Wolela said they “demonstrated a phenomenal level of patience with unruly and disruptive behaviour by some members of Parliament”.