The South African Police Service (SAPS) confirmed that Minister of Defence Thandi Modise, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele and Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwatla were held hostage by members of the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV) group on Thursday evening, 14 October.
POLICE ARREST KIDNAPPERS
SAPS National Spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the police received a report at approximately 19:15 on Thursday about a possible hostage situation unfolding at a hotel in Centurion, Pretoria.
“We deployed our various disciplines of the SAPS and when attempts to negotiate with the hostage-takers failed we successfully penetrated the room where these people have been kept hostage,” said the spokesperson.
“We rescued at least three hostages, of the three hostages, two of them were cabinet ministers and one a deputy minister,” added Naidoo.
The police said 56 people, including seven women, were apprehended after the authorities gained control of the situation. Contrary to earlier reports, Naidoo, said that no shots were fired during the hostage rescue.
However, three of the suspects were taken for medical treatment because they complained of pains, while one of the suspects complained about an injury.
“The 56 suspects are currently in police custody and they are expected to be charged for at least three counts of kidnapping,” said Naidoo.
The veterans reportedly prevented the ministers from leaving the St George Hotel after a breakdown in negotiations. The meeting with the veterans was to discuss benefits and the government’s failure to meet their demands, including a gratuity payment of R4 million each.
The veterans reportedly demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa address their concerns, himself, on Thursday, as Modise was not able to address their grievances.
The veteran’s group is made up of former soldiers from the ANC’s uMkhonto weSizwe, the PAC’s APLA and Azania’s Azania members. Earlier this week the veterans camped outside the ANC’s headquarters, Luthuli House, and demanded a meeting with the party’s leaders.
The veterans expected to meet with David Mabuza, who is the head of the presidential task team on issues related to military veterans, but he was unable to attend the meeting and Modise and her contingent were sent instead.