South Africa


ANC military veterans arrested after allegedly holding ministers hostage

Minister of Defence Thandi Modise. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Supposed former liberation fighters recently started camping outside Luthuli House. On Thursday, they allegedly held ministers Thandi Modise and Mondli Gungubele hostage before police intervened.

At least 56 people were arrested at St George’s Hotel and Conference Centre in Irene, Pretoria, on Thursday evening after police rescued Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele from a group of military veterans who allegedly held them hostage as they demanded R4.2-million each.

The ministers were meeting with the Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV), comprised of members of various armed groups that fought apartheid, including Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) and Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla). The group demonstrated outside Luthuli House this week, leading to the evacuation of the ANC’s headquarters.

SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said police received a report of a possible hostage situation at approximately 19:15 on Thursday. “After attempts to negotiate with the hostage-takers to release the hostages had failed, police resorted to a tactical approach and successfully rescued the hostages. There were no shots fired during the rescue,” said Naidoo.

He said 56 people were arrested and they would likely face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping.

In a video statement, Gungubele said, “We found ourselves in a situation which I consider untenable, legally unacceptable, where we thought we were in a meeting, whose intention was to attend to the problems that affect military veterans.

“We could not agree on how the meeting should take place. We reached a point where I thought we were agreeing that it should adjourn. As we were leaving the meeting, proceeding to the doors, they closed the doors.

“It is at that point that we realised that we’re held hostage. It’s a situation that was averted by the security forces, very effectively and successfully.”

According to News24, the Special Task Force (STF) led the intervention. The STF is an elite police unit whose members wear military fatigues and are trained in counter-terrorism and hostage situations.

It’s unclear whether the LSWV group threatened the Cabinet members or were armed. The ANC regularly holds meetings at St George’s Hotel where police subject attendees to security checks. Naidoo said three suspects were taken for medical checks after complaining of pains.

LSWV spokesperson Lwazi Mzobe told Newzroom Afrika that Modise was not held against her will. The group has claimed the government has failed its liberation fighters and has demanded a payout of over R4-million per member as well as a housing allowance, medical aid for their families and bursaries for their children to study at university.

Deputy President David Mabuza was scheduled to meet the LSWV group at the meeting but it appears he did not attend St George’s. The LSWV group demanded to see President Cyril Ramaphosa, immediately.

“There are no barricades. [Modise] is not being held hostage. She can come and go as she pleases. We just want a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa. They’re under no security threat,” Mzobe told Newzroom Africa.

It’s often acknowledged that many ex-combatants from liberation movements feel stranded and sometimes betrayed by the ANC government. It’s unclear whether those in Thursday’s meeting were voicing legitimate concerns or opportunistically trying to profit off ex-combatants’ plight.

The LSWV group has previously been linked to violence in KwaZulu-Natal. The group led protests in Durban in September and November 2020, which led to brutal attacks on foreign traders, largely reported as having been led by Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) members. Critics have pointed out that the protestors don’t look old enough to have been members of MK, which was disbanded during the democratic transition.

LSWV is also linked to protests by South African truck drivers demanding a ban on foreigners in the industry and was active in such demonstrations, which appeared to occur at the same time as attacks on dozens of trucks on the N3 from Durban to Johannesburg. The violence against the road freight industry is as yet unexplained. Trucks were attacked again on the N3 shortly after the recent incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.

LSWV members reportedly marched from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in April 2021 demanding jobs and threatening to disrupt the local government elections if their demands weren’t met.

Members of the group were accommodated at Luthuli House on Monday after protesting at the ANC’s headquarters. The ANC said it allowed the supposed ex-combatants to sleep in its offices to avoid breaking Covid-19 lockdown regulation. Members of the same group appear to be involved with holding Cabinet members hostage. DM


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All Comments 25

    • Have to agree with you….. whatever decent reputation the “Anti-Apartheid” organizations ever had, has been trashed by this moment! This group is merely a distraction on behalf of the Zuma faction ( including the EFF) Wolves in sheep’s clothing…..Gangsters, one and all!

  • Cyril, no real arrests have been made of the instigators of the Durban rioting and looting and truck burning. We have the alleged same bunch of suspects taking Ministers hostage. When are you going to act. Above in the report we see constant mention of Luthuli House, where is the dividing line between ANC and Government. Special forces used at whose cost.

    • What a laugh. Highlighting the slow response to the recent riots and truck burning.
      Even more pathetic as security forces know who the thug brigade is. Veterans my @&”;

      • There is NO lack of birth control measures. Contraceptives, birth control pills, etc. are available free-of-charge to the “poor” – at greta cost to the hard-working, responsible taxpayer. In addition health services are also provided at no cost to the poor – again funded by the taxpayer. Abortions are also available “free” on demand to the indigent. It is the very recipients of these “free” services who REFUSE to act responsibly in respect of the recklessness of bringing children into the world that they cannot, or will not, provide for. Until & unless the Government jumps into the 21st Century and addresses the reckless sexual conduct of the people, we’re on a hiding to nothing. Start with the services & freebies given to people with several wives innumerable progeny. Stop funding all the wives & progeny of the “kings”, Cabinet Ministers, etc.Benefits should be for ONE spouse only & a max of 4 children. If you want more wives & children, split that freebie among them all. likewise with the indigent. “free” services for the first 2 children ONLY. After that the reckless & irresponsible should fund their own consequences.

  • Joseph Stalin said that revolutionaries did not make good citizens and dealt with them accordingly in ways that we would never dream of using today.

    • Hi my old schoolmate. Couldn’t agree with you more …. that dream could conceivably change in future as the relationships become more challenging and the government loses its hold on power.

    • This incident is a pattern seen throughout Africa. Political infighting for personal gain. Just like dogs fighting over a piece of meat…. no cohesive strategy for the good of society. No value created for the taxpayers contributions. Just greed, destruction and stupidity. God help us! ( if there is one!!!)

  • This is laughable. Years ago I was in meetings where suddenly protesters would march in and demand to see a minister. In these cases we were also not allowed to leave. It is a form of protest that was taught by the ANC and their ilk. I remember at one meeting, after a couple of hours, it was obvious that the minister would not show (they never do). I got up, told the “leader” I had to go and left. As I passed, everyone greeted me and thanked me for my patience!

    Yes, technically it is kidnap. Yet, I find the reaction of getting in armed support a bit over the top – these ministers were the instigators of these methods.

    • This is nothing more than the old style of union negotiations being used to get yet more money for people that won’t work. The SAPS won’t lift a finger if any of us are in real trouble. We only pay for everything.

  • We are in a Constitutional Democracy. There is the SA Defence Force which is the legal armed force of the Republic. There is ONE Commander-in-Chief : the President of the Republic of South Africa. All others using that title should be charged with fraudulent misrepresentation of the office of The State President. Don’t send them to jail-impose a hefty fine, payable within a month, failing which, repossess their possessions/property. All paramilitary formations should have been disbanded as soon as South Africa became a Constitutional Democracy – 1994 if we need reminding. Several former MKMVA members were integrated into the SANDF – regardless of capacity/competence & many were parachuted into top ranking positions. Several who went into private business/ occupations but were STILL paid a Military veterans Pension. All those “veterans” should be no younger than in their fifties now. All were -as far as is known -documented at the time and integrated or “pensioned” as indicated. For Govt Ministers to be meeting with unverified characters in a hotel beggars all belief. If these are genuine “veterans” they would have been documented at the time -2 decades ago. If they were not, why are Govt Ministers meeting with them? It’s past time for all thugs to be dealt with decisively and with urgency. This is beyond ludicrous. it is frightening the speed with which our beautiful country has descended into a gangster state.

  • The situations that the President and his Ministers find themselves in may be laughable or shocking to us mere onlookers, civil society, citizens and taxpayers of this country… their continued incompetence in understanding their role as “GOVERNMENT” of the people, for the people, by the people has completely passed them by… they will be hoist by their own petard, but unfortunately we onlookers will be too…🙁

  • It is clear that law and order, as recognised in the western world, went some considerable time ago and we are left with “God only knows what”!! This seems to be the african way and we will have to live with it.

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