In a video of the incident, a group of at least seven red-clad EFF MPs can be seen in front of the ANC’s benches pushing other MPs around and waving their arms.
Sitting in the front row of the governing party’s benches, Mandla Mandela – a newly appointed deputy minister – can be seen shooing the EFF MPs away, while former deputy minister of finance Mondli Gungubele is also trying to coax the EFF away.
According to at least one MP, punches were thrown, but that is not visible in the video in the possession of News24. Another MP said it is believed that the confrontation was instigated by EFF members.
DA MP Annelie Lotriet, who chaired the session to introduce new and returning MPs to the mechanics of legislating and lawmaking, said EFF MP Makoti Khawula had used the opportunity to taunt and attack the ANC.
“She repeatedly attacked the ANC and accused them of electing criminals to Parliament. This obviously led to ANC MPs becoming riled up. When one of the ANC MPs started responding to her, I asked for calm and tried to explain that the purpose of the session is to talk about lawmaking.
“Suddenly another EFF MP, Tebogo Mokwele, jumped up, took the microphone and started shouting at the ANC, ignoring the chair and started marching across to the ANC benches, followed by some EFF MPs. That’s when the fight broke out,” Lotriet told News24.
Modise then marched into the room and separated the two groups, before giving them a “dressing down”, according to Lotriet.
Julius Malema’s party has a history of violence in the national legislature.
The EFF has been involved in numerous fracas since they were elected to Parliament in 2014, with punches, helmets, water bottles and other debris having been thrown by the red berets during sittings of the National Assembly.
Floyd Shivambu, the party’s deputy leader, was caught on video with his hands around a journalist’s throat on the grounds of Parliament, while another MP, Marshall Dlamini, has been charged with assault after slapping a policeman in the face following February’s State of the Nation Address.
Lotriet said the first day of induction on Tuesday was also chaotic. “The EFF is clearly preparing for something. They are disrupting sessions and depriving new members of learning about the culture, convention and traditions of Parliament.”
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was not available to comment.