South Africa

NEWSFLASH

Military vets leader who took two ministers and a deputy minister hostage works for eThekwini Municipality

Defence Minister Thandi Modise. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Deon Raath)

The police have arrested 56 former liberation movement veterans involved in the midnight hostage drama at Irene, involving two ministers and a deputy minister.

Daily Maverick has confirmed that Lwazi Mzobe, spokesperson for the newly established Liberation Struggle War Veterans, which sprung up when the MK Military Veterans Association was disbanded as an ANC structure, is employed by the eThekwini Municipality.

Mzobe was the leader of the vets who first staged a sleep-in at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters this week and who then took Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele and Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla hostage at the St George’s Hotel on Thursday.

They were rescued at 2am by the Special Task Force, which is headed by General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. The same force was deployed to Nkandla in July when the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma escalated into a national security risk. 

A general view of Saint George’s Hotel. (Photo by Gallo Images/Lee Warren)

Mzobe has represented the Liberation Struggle War Veterans all week on radio and television interviews, complaining that vets are sleeping rough and have been left destitute. The group demanded R2.2-million each in reparations, among other measures, and barricaded the doors at the lodge, demanding that Deputy President David Mabuza meet with them. Mabuza leads the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans.

Gungubele issued a video explainer in which he looked shocked at what had happened.   

Brigadier Vish Naidoo of Natjoints (a security structure of senior police, intelligence and defence officials) said 56 people had been arrested and they faced at least three counts of kidnapping. 

Liberation movement veterans are cared for by the Department of Military Veterans which has a budget of R654-million this year to cover their grants, pensions, upskilling and medical care. 

Many veterans, like Mzobe, work in the public sector. He is a writer at the municipality, Tehekwini Council Spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela confirmed to Daily Maverick on Friday morning. These positions are well paid with public-sector benefits including medical care, study grants and housing allowances. 

Whistle-blowers from the ANC found that several eThekwini council employees helped organise the July looting and violence, as reported here.   

Mzobe denied the two ministers and deputy minister had been taken hostage, although the government and police labelled it a hostage event. DM

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All Comments 6

  • You cannot upskill a military vet, nor an ANC minister for that matter. Therefore there seems to be a lot of corruption monies in this budget. The joke is that most are probably not military and if they are working for the eThekwini Municipality then why are they considered a military vet with the benefits that come from that.

    The irony, the sense of entitlement is just too big to ignore.

    Who owns this den of iniquity called the Saint Georges Hotel? The ANC?

  • charges will be dropped in the cause of unity
    some good questions about the status of the leader, was he on study or compassionate leave ?
    does he receive two salaries ?
    who audits the R654 million that is granted , if registered as former soldiers I thought that genuine ex members received a military pension, most genuine members must be either at or close to retirement age.
    Another thought, a great number of MK were assimilated into the defence force, others as stated are employed by municipalities.
    How many guys were left out of this ?
    To still be spending money on skills upgrading probably 20 years after, wow. these must be guys in their late 50,s or early 60,s what are they being trained as ?
    smells a bit fishy to me, another milking scheme.