The EFF supporters sang struggle songs about taking the land by force and were joined in singing by a group dressed in ANC colours.

The chairman of the constitutional review committee on expropriation of land without compensation, Lewis Nzimande, on Wednesday called for calm following a chaotic start of the public hearings at Komani.

The Chris Hani district municipality hearings held at Queenstown Town Hall attracted large numbers of people who could not all fit in the hall, which was packed to capacity.

This led to disruption of the proceedings by members of the public dressed in Economic Freedom Fighters regalia, refusing to allow the debate to begin.

They sang struggle songs about taking the land by force and were joined in singing by a group dressed in the colours of the African National Congress.

Disruptions continued throughout the proceedings with those in support of constitutional amendment to allow expropriation of land without compensation shouting loud to drown out those against amendment.

ANC and EFF supporters dominated the public hearing, calling for the parliamentarians to speed up the process as they are ready to invade the land.

But there was still scepticism about government’s capability in success of the process.

Yanga Zicinga, who introduced himself as an ANC member, called for the establishment of independent agency to implement the distribution of land.

“There must be a national benchmark of how many hectares of the land each person can own.”

Phaphama Madubedube said government must expropriate urban land for programmes designed to uplift people and leave the land under the ownership of traditional leaders.

Others expressed more radical views. Siyambonga Booi criticised the public hearings process and said it was done to appease whites.

“You can’t negotiate with thieves, why does the government has to protect white people?” said Booi.

BLF’s Vuyolwethu Nqaba said the expropriation of land without compensation must be aimed at white people’s land only and people must not vote for political parties until they get the land.

In response to BLF, Pieter Prinsloo of the Enoch Gijima farmers association asked: “What are you going to do with the land and how will you eat if you don’t know farming?” That comment sparked outrage from people inside the hall.

Meanwhile, another white farmer, Michael Le Grange, said this was the time for dialogue to unite the people of the country.

“I’m not going to say section 25 must be amended or not, I just want us to work together and make this work,” said Le Grange.

More public hearings would be held at the East London Orient Theatre on Thursday.

Speaking with journalists during the break, Nzimande called for tolerance for those that had expressed different opinions.

“We appeal to members of the public to be courteous to members with different views. We see that political parties have done a lot of mobilisation of their members but every member of the public should be given a chance.”