South Africa's police minister says that a charge of high treason has been filed by the ruling party against an opposition party leader who threatened to remove the government "through the barrel of a gun."

Police minister Nathi Nhleko confirmed Tuesday that the African National Congressa had opened the case against Malema in Johannesburg. An investigation will establish whether the allegations are true or not, Nhleko said.

Malema, the 35-year-old leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), made the statement in a television interview broadcast at the weekend on Al Jazeera.

"Part of your revolutionary duty is to fight," Malema said. "If they respond violently to our peaceful protests . We will run out of patience very soon and we will remove the government through the barrel of a gun."

ANC party spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in an emailed statement that Malema's remarks are "a call to violence, inflammatory, treasonable and seditious ... The remarks made by Mr. Malema are a clear incitement to people to commit acts of violence, which is against the laws of the republic."

Explaining his stance against President Jacob Zuma's government, Malema said: "Zuma is not our enemy. The ANC is not our enemy. They are standing in the way of our goal to crush white monopoly capital, which has stolen our land, which controls the wealth of our country," said Malema, who was expelled from the ANC in 2012. He had been the head of the ANC's Youth League and was a staunch supporter of President Jacob Zuma before they fell out.