October 16, 2021

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‘This is worrying’: How, exactly, were two ANC ministers taken hostage?

3 min read

Two ANC ministers – including Head of Defence Thandi Modise – and one deputy minister ended up as hostages during a terrifying exchange in Gauteng. A disgruntled group of struggle veterans ended up barricading themselves in a room with the politicians, in an alleged bid to have their demands met.

Thandi Modise, Mondli Gungubele ‘taken hostage’

The entire chaotic event played out like something from a Hollywood movie. Developments moved at a lightning-fast pace on Thursday evening, before a dramatic rescue plan was enforced.

According to Mr Gungubele, the ordeal lasted for three hours. At least three people were injured during the liberation effort, but none of the politicians involved were reported as casualties.

ANC ministers Mondli Gungubele, Thandi Modise and Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla were all taken hostage.
The Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV) occupying the St George Hotel in Johannesburg, are behind the plot.
They were demanding reparations to the tune of R4 million, citing multiple failures of the Defence Department.
Their meeting with Thandi Modise was to discuss benefits and demands that have not yet been met.
After talks broke down, veterans barricaded the doors and prevented Modise and the other ministers from leaving.
A Special Forces Task Team eventually stormed the building, freed the ministers, and restored law and order.

The Special Task Force stormed the St Georges conference centre to rescue Defence minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele after they were held hostage by disgruntled military veterans.

— Qaanitah Hunter (@QaanitahHunter) October 14, 2021

ANC ministers in hostage drama

However, there are still some rather grave implications to consider…

How the Minister of Defence could end up in a hostage situation during a public engagement is scarcely believable, and it does little to instil confidence in the country’s ability to uphold the rule of law. Darren Olivier, a Director at African Defence Review, has labelled this whole saga as a ‘worrying development’ for Mzansi.

Taking ministers hostage is a significant breakdown in the rule of law, and a worrying development. There is no justifying this either, no matter who the perpetrators are or how right they believe grievances are. https://t.co/m4BYuJVDx4

— Darren Olivier (@darren_olivier) October 14, 2021

How, exactly, were two ANC ministers held for ransom?

Speaking to TheSouthAfrican, Olivier explained what exactly enabled such a bizarre encounter. The LSWV, who were repeatedly granted an audience with senior ANC ministers, had previously occupied Luthuli House this week – forcing an evacuation of staff at the party’s headquarters.

‘Poor judgement’, ‘awful security’, and ‘the encouragement offered to the veterans’ have all been blamed for this serious infraction, which Olivier says was ‘completely unjustified’:

“The taking of ministers hostage by the Liberation Struggle War Veterans is both completely unjustified and a serious breakdown in security. This has happened because the LSWV has been emboldened and encouraged by continued engagement from senior ANC and government representatives despite violent actions during the week.”

“That ministers decided it was safe to meet with the veterans again, after the group had broken into Luthuli House during the week, displays poor judgement and awful security. This should not have been allowed to happen.”