WATCH: Expert questions Malema's AK-47 toy gun claim

It’s highly likely that Julius Malema fired a real semi-automatic weapon,at an EFF rally in the Eastern Cape last year. And put the lives of people around him in danger. That’s according to a firearms expert who has studied the footage of Malema with the gun. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - It’s highly likely that EFF leader Julius Malema fired a real semi-automatic weapon at an EFF rally in the Eastern Cape last year.

This is according to a firearm expert, Shaun Murphy of the Elite Firearms Training.

Murphy has studied the footage of Malema firing the rifle.

READ: NPA charges Malema for allegedly shooting a firearm

Malema appeared in court on Wednesday for discharging a firearm in public – but his party claims the gun wasn't real – and the noise came from fireworks.

Murphy, however, is not convinced by this explanation.

“Just looking at the video, it’s quite easy to identify the firearm. I have handled and used these firearms in the past myself and it appears to be a Siaga 308 caliber rifle. So it’s a rifle based on the original AK-47 design.”

He says there are clear signs in the video that Malema wasn’t firing a replica weapon or firing blanks. – 

“Firstly, when he holds the firearm up to use it, you can see there is a recoil present in time with the sound of the shots. And any firearm where there is recoil present, indicates that he is firing a live projectile. Also in the shot you can see that there is some kind of bright muzzle flash on at least one of the shots fired. Which indicates there is some kind of burning propellant.”

Murphy said Malema’s actions placed the lives of those around him at risk.

“Those bullets come down somewhere. The angle he was firing at those bullets could come down more than a kilometer from where he fired. But it’s still extremely dangerous.”