The EFF leader has called into question footage of him apparently firing a rifle, saying: ‘There was no gun … there was no live ammunition.’
Speaking to JJ Tabane on SABC’s Frankly Speaking on Sunday night, EFF leader Julius Malema spoke for the first time about controversial footage of him allegedly firing an assault rifle in public.
A video that emerged on Tuesday night of Malema apparently discharging a high-powered automatic rifle into the air at his party’s fifth birthday celebration gathering in the Eastern Cape last Saturday had became a major talking point countrywide.
The police are understood to be investigating the case under the Firearms Control Act, since firing blindly into the air in a built-up area carries the risk that the bullets will descend and unintentionally strike someone.
Others have also criticised the EFF for allegedly promoting political violence.
The man Malema handed the rifle to was identified as Bluff security company owner Adriaan Snyman, who is also facing an investigation for his alleged role, but denied any knowledge of the incident.
The EFF said in a statement last week that the entire performance had been a simulation and the sound of gunshots had come from fireworks that were primed to go off at the same time.
They said the “rifle” was in fact a toy gun.
When asked on live television about the incident on Sunday, Malema said he stood by the EFF’s statement and was not willing to say much more about it due to the possible police investigation and the fact that the matter might go before the courts.
There have been reports that he may face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.
Malema did, however, suggest that police may be acting to frame him for the crime, which he continues to deny happened.
At one point he even called the authenticity of the video itself into question.
“I may have to answer in court … now there is a white police chap there in East London who moves around with a cartridge, who says to the forensics, ‘Let’s go and create the crime scene.’”
“Seriously? Like framing you?” asked Tabane.
“I don’t understand …” Malema said. “Where does it come from? If there was a genuine cartridge, you can go to the scene and find it there. Why do you have to create a crime scene?”
Presumably Malema was referring to his view that police would not be able to find any spent cartridges at the stadium, and if they did, his defence would be that they had planted it there.
“So there is all this drama around it. And what we did there … that simulation … it’s not the first time. That was the fifth time we are doing it. It coincides with fireworks all the time in the celebrations of the EFF. Unfortunately you are seeing it for the first time.”
Tabane admitted it had been a first for him to see it.
Malema then even denied that there had been an assault rifle in the video at all.
“There was no gun. You can’t be seeing things on videos that are not even authentic. We are not sure they are authentic, and then you declare them guns.”
Malema denied that he would ever discharge a real firearm among his own members, “because I know how dangerous it is”.
Offering a small smile, he said: “There was no live ammunition at all.”