War vets deny holding ministers hostage, say it was a stalemate on way forward

Three members of President Ramaphosa’s executive were held against their will for several hours as they tried to reason and make commitments to frustrated military veterans.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The long-standing battle over the welfare of former combatants has ended in late-night drama, which saw Defence Minister Thandi Modise and her deputy, Thabang Makwetla as well as Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele being taken hostage.

The three were not allowed to leave the venue at the St George's Hotel in Centurion following a meeting with former liberation movement combatants.

WATCH: Ministers held hostage by frustrated military veterans

Earlier this week, the frustrated veterans from different formations - labelled the Liberation Struggle War Veterans - camped at the African National Congress (ANC)’s headquarters demanding to see top officials of the party over concerns about their welfare.

They staged a similar march to see President Cyril Ramaphosa last year and were due to meet his number two, David Mabuza on Thursday.

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Thursday night signalled yet another unprecedented moment in South Africa’s history, where the nation was reminded of its fragility and uncertainty when it comes to security.

Three members of President Ramaphosa’s executive were held against their will for several hours as they tried to reason and make commitments to frustrated military veterans.

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, after the ordeal, described it as an untenable and a legally unacceptable meeting.

"As we were leaving the meeting, proceeding to the doors, they closed the doors. it was at that point that we were held hostage," Minister Gungubele said.

But the veterans, who remain frustrated, claimed that the state used its might to shut them down. They’ve denied that they held the ministers hostage, instead saying that there was a stalemate about the way forward.

One of them, Lesley Kgogo, said that all they wanted were reparations owed to them for participating in the battle for liberation.

"This agreement was there from mandela and he agreed that he was going to sort it out but then nothing happened," Kgogo explained.

Police said that 56 people were taken into custody.

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

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