War veterans arrested for holding ministers hostage to face kidnapping charges

Scores of law enforcement officials swarmed the St George's Conference Centre in Irene after a meeting between military veterans and the defence minister turned into a hostile standoff.

FILE: Police seen outside the St George’s hotel where Defence Minister Thandi Modise, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele and Deputy Minister of Defence Thabang Makwetla  were held hostage by former liberation combatants on 14 October 2021. Picture: Veronica Mokhoali/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng police said that 56 people belonging to the Liberation Struggle War Veterans are expected to face charges of kidnapping after they held ministers Thandi Modise and Mondi Gungubele along with Thabang Makwetla, hostage for over three hours at the St George’s Hotel in Centurion.

The war veterans had been protesting against the government’s failure to pay them reparations.

Eyewitness News was on the scene when the trio was freed by the special task force, with the assistance of military police at about 10pm on Thursday night.

ALSO READ:
- At least 56 people arrested after ministers held hostage - NatJoints

Scores of law enforcement officials swarmed the St George's Conference Centre in Irene after a meeting between military veterans and the defence minister turned into a hostile standoff.

In a video leaked to Eyewitness News during the meeting, tensions ran high after veterans accused Thandi Modise of failing to address their grievances. Disgruntled members then blocked the doors.

WATCH: Ministers held hostage by frustrated military veterans

When attempts to negotiate with the hostage-takers failed, special forces stormed the room. With police firing tear gas, escorting the two Cabinet ministers and deputy minister to safety.

As Eyewitness News gained entrance into the conference venue, several ex-combatants were detained, with police tight-lipped on the safety of the ministers or injuries suffered during the operation.

“What I do know, is they were whisked away by the protectors. I'm not sure to exactly where. We successfully penetrated the room where they were being held hostage, and there were no shots fired.” said the police’s Vish Naidoo.

However, sources inside the venue said that shots were fired when the task force and military police swooped in.

“It’s critical comrades, we are down now. They’ve shot some of us,” said one person who was inside.

Police have confirmed that at least three of the arrested people were taken for medical treatment.

WATCH: Minister Gungubele: We found ourselves in a situation legally unacceptable

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.