Ex-combatants who held ministers hostage to appear in court today
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More than 50 military veterans who were arrested for allegedly holding two ministers and a deputy minister hostage last week are expected to make their first court appearance this morning.
The 56, including seven women, are likely to face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping after the Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, Defence Minister Thandi Modise and her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, were held against their will at the St George Hotel and Conference Centre in Irene, Pretoria.
Police used stun grenades to defuse the situation.
The ministers detailed what transpired, saying they had a meeting with military veterans but could barely start as the veterans demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza address their needs.
They were held hostage by a group called the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV). This group consisted of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), the Azanian People’s Liberation Army and Azanian National Liberation Army.
When they reached a stalemate, the trio opted to leave, but the veterans allegedly blocked the exit. Although they spent hours in the room, Gungubele said there was no violence.
That sentiment was echoed by Modise, who said their lives were never in danger.
Meanwhile, spokesperson for the disbanded Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association Carl Niehaus together with some aggrieved ANC staff members will be laying an official complaint against the party’s national office bearers with the Public Protector this morning.
This is in connection with the recurring non-payment of salaries.
In a statement issued on yesterday, Niehaus said it was the aggrieved ANC employees who previously laid criminal charges of theft, fraud, corruption, and various statutory crimes against the national office bearers (NOBs) of the ANC.
“This complaint concerns the failure of government agencies that are in terms of legislation responsible for regulating the Provident Fund, PAYE, etc to act against the ANC.
“It is of serious concern that these government agencies have not taken up the matter of the ANC having, for an extended period of time, made deductions from employees’ salaries, but not having paid over the deducted monies to the relevant government institutions,” Niehaus said.
He added it was “inconceivable” that those government agencies had not been aware of “such criminal acts” by the ANC.
Niehaus is expected to join the aggrieved ANC members at the office of the Public Protector in Hillcrest, Pretoria, this morning.
He said that once the official complaint was filed, the employees would make their complaint document available to the media, and address the media outside Public Protector House.
In addition, the group will also provide an update on the progress regarding the criminal case against the ANC, which Niehaus said was being closely monitored and dealt with as a priority case by the Hawks.
Niehaus, who also weighed in on the arrest of 56 military veterans, said it was “incorrect and unnecessarily alarmist” to allege that a hostage situation unfolded at the St George Hotel and Conference Centre.
“At no stage was there any violence or threat to the lives of the two ministers and one deputy minister.
“It was a total over-reaction for special forces to have been sent in, which used excessive force to resolve a non-existent hostage and non-violent situation,” he said.