Was the 'assault rifle' Malema 'fired' an AK-47?
The "assault rifle" EFF leader Julius Malema seemingly fired from stage at a rally after-party at the weekend appears to be an AK-47 "on face value", according to a gun expert.
Advocate John Welch, chairperson of the South African Gunowners' Association, told News24 on Wednesday that the gun appeared to be an AK-47, "which is for many people a symbol of the former struggle". He said it was difficult to be 100% sure.
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.
But regardless of the type of weapon Malema seemingly discharged, Welch describes the act as "unacceptable".
"Whether it's a counterfeit gun or a real firearm is immaterial. This is a very serious offence."
In a video that News24 published on Tuesday, Malema appears to be firing shots from an assault rifle during the EFF's 5th anniversary celebrations at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape on Saturday.
'In extremely bad taste'
He then hands it over to a man, who appears to be Bluff security company owner Adriaan Snyman, who then quickly ducks out of the camera's shot. Malema then gives a high-five to EFF chairperson advocate Dali Mpofu.
When asked if he was present and took the rifle from Malema, Snyman told News24 that he was not aware of anything. "Phone me back in the morning," he said. On Wednesday morning, Snyman told News24 that he was not aware of the video and asked to be called back later.
Snyman has previously been identified as one of Malema's bodyguards.
According to Welch, no security company is entitled to be in possession of a fully automatic weapon.
"It would be in extremely bad taste for a security company to own an AK47-type firearm."
Welch said it was immaterial whether live ammunition or blanks were fired.
AfriForum to lay charges
"It remains an offence. The 'blank' remains, in terms of the Firearms Control Act, ammunition.
"The penalty for discharging a firearm in a public space could be imprisonment of three to five years, with or without the option of a fine.
"Any offence where one abuses the right to possess a firearm must lead to serious consequences," 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.
Lobby group AfriForum indicated it would be laying charges against Malema for the incident at Lyttelton police station in Centurion at 13:00 on Wednesday.