56 arrested after S. African ministers ‘held hostage’ by military veterans demanding reparations for fight against white rule

At least 56 people have been detained and will likely face kidnapping charges after ANC anti-apartheid veterans held three ministers hostage in hotel in Pretoria, South Africa, demanding compensation for fighting white rule.

South Africa’s National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJoints) agency has confirmed that it was forced to act on Thursday night to free three government ministers who were “held hostage” in a Pretoria hotel. At least 56 people, including seven women, are likely to face charges of kidnapping, the organization stated. 

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They added that three of the suspects had been taken off for medical treatment having complained about pains. 

In a video shared online, Mondli Gungubele, a minister in the presidency, said he and defense minister Thandi Modise, along with her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, were trapped in a hotel conference room after a meeting with African National Congress (ANC) anti-apartheid veterans ended acrimoniously. 

Gungubele said the meeting had run its course without any outcome, and he thought they had agreed to adjourn. However, upon attempting to leave the conference room, the doors were closed in front of them. 

“It is at that point when we realized that we’re held hostage,” Gungubele stated, adding that “it is a situation which was averted by the security forces, very effectively and successfully.” The minister labeled the incident as “untenable” and “legally unacceptable.” 

According to local media, the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV), a disbanded ANC military wing, have demanded R4.2 million ($285,000) per member. The ministers, part of the ANC government, had agreed to meet with them at the Pretoria hotel and negotiate. 

The former anti-apartheid fighters had protested outside Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, this week. On Tuesday, the building had to be evacuated because of a security breach and non-compliance with Covid-19 protocols. 

LSWV spokesperson Lwazi Mzobe dismissed the allegations, telling Newzroom Afrika that the ministers were not held against their will. Mzobe claims the ANC government has failed its militant veterans who fought for the end of apartheid. The demanded money would reportedly be used for housing allowance, medical insurance for their families and to finance their children through university.

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