'Powdery substance' let off in Parliament's public gallery

2017-02-09 21:03
Powder left in Parliament. (Paul Herman, News24)

Powder left in Parliament. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town - A powdery substance, with effects similar to teargas or pepper spray, was let off in Parliament's public gallery while the Economic Freedom Fighters were being thrown out of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address.

Dignitaries, citizens and politicians were seen coughing and tearing as they exited one section of the public gallery bay of the National Assembly on Thursday.

Cape Town Mayor Patrica de Lille was one of those affected, as well as African Christian Democratic Party chairperson Kenneth Meshoe.

Both indicated to News24 that they were okay, but could not speak.

LIVE: Drama outside while Zuma continues with #SONA2017

Former President Thabo Mbeki was sitting approximately 15m from where the powder was dispersed, but his bay was unaffected.

Eyewitnesses described it as "very strong", causing severe coughing, tearing and a burning sensation in the throat and chest.

The powder appeared to have been kept in a white piece of paper. Another witness said it was kept in a "metal block".

Its effects were minimised after Parliament security doused it with water.

Police were monitoring the situation, but there were no leads on a suspect, they said.

It appears as if an ordinary member of the public was the culprit.

Read more on:    sona 2017
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