Ekurhuleni reveals demilitarisation plan

2010-10-17 19:51

Johannesburg - The Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality plans to rehabilitate and train former military veterans as part of a demilitarisation project, Ekurhuleni executive mayor Ntombi Mekgwe's office said on Sunday.

The programme, which was initiated in 2006 as a mayoral project, had been revived and would be prioritised as the need for it had become more apparent, spokesperson Zweli Dlamini said in a statement.

Dlamini referred to Mekgwe's speech at the recent re-launch of the project where she pointed out that the struggle for liberation created a force of militarised people and led to the Ekurhuleni region being transformed into a battlefield prior to the 1994 elections.

Mekgwe said young people were forced to be defenders of their communities and freedom fighters.

"As a result the area became an epicentre of a campaign of organised violent attacks that left behind widows, orphans, hundreds maimed and many dead."

Mekgwe said those who survived were living in poverty due to unemployment and lack of skills.

She said this was a result of not having formalised re-socialisation and reintegration programmes in place.

Dlamini said the demilitarisation project would not only focus on Mkhonto we Sizwe veterans, but would also include those who were trained under other structures, such as the Azanian People's Liberation Army and Azanian National Liberation Army.

He said a committee of 18 co-ordinators representing all townships in Ekurhuleni had been formed and it had recently sat at a strategic municipal session to fine-tune its implementation strategy.

"The plan has prioritised counselling for the ex-combatants to help them deal with the array of psychological problems they experience."

Dlamini said since the project's focus was on job creation, skills training and business support, a panel of experts from government departments and the private sector would be formed to assist the metro.

A database of beneficiaries had been compiled, and the panel would be responsible for assessing the candidates with the aim of placing them in certain professions, he said.