South African opposition leader Julius Malema and five other MPs from his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party were on Wednesday punished with a one-month suspension without pay from parliament.

The parliament’s powers and privileges committee found them guilty of contempt of parliament for storming the stage during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address in February.

The speaker then suspended proceedings as security removed Malema and the other MPs from the hall.

The committee added that “each member must also make an apology in person in the House to the president, the speaker and the people of South Africa” for disrupting the president’s address and “putting the country in a bad light”.

The suspension of the six MPs will run during the whole month of February next year, meaning that Malema and the other five MPs will be blocked from attending the president’s next state of the nation address, which is due in that month.

On Monday, the EFF MPs refused to participate in the hearings against them after the committee declined their request for postponement.

Malema also protested against the appointment of advocate Anton Katz as the initiator in the hearing.

“I will not be persecuted by a white man,” Malema said.