Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema is not firing blanks. At least he wasn’t when he fired a semi-automatic rifle into the air at the party’s fifth birthday bash on Saturday.

A video of the incident emerged on Tuesday night, prompting a massive backlash.

Firearms experts and gun dealers say the party’s claim that its commander-in-chief was doing nothing more than firing blanks is “hogwash”.

Malema has not responded to requests for comment. The EFF has said it was not live ammunition that was fired.

“From the video you can see that a muzzle ‘stopper’ was not fitted to the gun,” firearms expert and trainer Johan Lourens told Times Select. “Muzzle stoppers are fitted onto guns which are set up to fire blanks. You can’t miss them. From the video you can see that it’s not fitted with one.”

He said it needed to be asked why someone who is allegedly Malema’s bodyguard would equip himself with a gun that fired blanks, “especially when it comes to defending someone’s life”.