Police investigating Malema rifle 'shooting' incident

Police are to investigate an incident in which EFF leader Julius Malema was captured on camera seemingly discharging what appeared to be an automatic assault rifle at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, outside East London.

"I can confirm that the SAPS registered a case of discharging of a firearm in a built-up area. The due processes will follow," said police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo. 

In a video that News24 published on Tuesday, Malema appeared to be firing shots from an automatic assault rifle during the EFF's 5th anniversary celebrations on Saturday.

He then handed the rifle over to a man, who appeared to be Bluff security company owner Adriaan Snyman, who then quickly ducked out of the camera's shot. Malema then gave a high-five to EFF chairperson Dali Mpofu.

On Wednesday, gun expert and chairperson of the South African Gunowners' Association, John Welch, speculated that the weapon was an AK-47 assault rifle

Welch said that fully-automatic assault rifles, such as AK-47s, may only be owned by the government, i.e. the South African Police Service or South African National Defence Force, or category A gun collectors, of which there are fewer than 15 in South Africa.

Lobby group AfriForum on Wednesday laid charges against Malema of contravening the Firearms Control Act.

Opening the case at Lyttelton Police Station in Tshwane on Wednesday, AfriForum's head of safety Ian Cameron said it was worrying for a senior political leader to supposedly discharge a firearm in a public area.

"If it is so that it is a real firearm, it's obviously very worrying to see that it's being discharged in such a way at a public meeting, and the fact that a senior political leader acts this way in front of a lot of people creates an impression that it's okay to be negligent with a firearm," said Cameron.

Welch told News24 that, regardless of the type of weapon Malema seemingly discharged, such behaviour was "unacceptable".

"Whether it's a counterfeit gun or a real firearm is immaterial. This is a very serious offence," said Welch. 

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has denied that a real firearm was used.

"It is not a firearm and no real bullets were shot. It was a simulation, part of our entire act of celebrating the 5th anniversary. It coincided with the singing of struggle songs and fireworks," Ndlozi told News24 on Tuesday. 

In response to the charges brought by AfriForum, Ndlozi said: "We have nothing to fear from a police investigation. AfriForum has made the EFF and Mr Malema its agenda. They led a march called Black Monday where real guns were being proudly displayed in public; have they opened cases there as well?"