Struggle veterans have instructed their lawyers to proceed with a class action to compel government to compensate them for the sacrifices they made to liberate the country from the clutches of apartheid 28 years ago.
According to their lawyer former ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa, the 2 500 veterans he represents are demanding that government compensate them with reparations, pensions, special pensions, housing, educational and other benefits for putting their lives on the line in the fight for democracy.
“It cannot be that people who physically fought for the democracy we enjoy today are destitute without housing, employment, and mere basics when it is known that true freedom is economic,” Phosa said.
The group includes members of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army Military Veterans Association and the Azanian National Liberation Army Military Veterans Association.
Phosa’s clients are demanding:
- Reparations amounting to R4.2 million per veteran;
- Compelling government to pay them pensions of R15 000 a month;
- Government should honour and comply with agreements made in the consensus document two years ago; and
- A review of the SA National Defence Force integration prejudices, the SA Police Service integration prejudices, and presidential declaration on the plight of veterans.
On November 10 2020 the military veterans made their voice heard when they marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to submit a memorandum of demands to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa subsequently established the presidential task team chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza. As an outcome of the task team’s engagement with the veterans, a consensus document was signed in December 2020 stating the military veterans’ demands.
However, a meeting scheduled with Ramaphosa on October 14 2021 in Centurion to discuss agreements was abandoned after tensions flared up. The veterans allegedly held Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele hostage for about three hours.
At least 53 veterans were arrested and charged with one count of conspiracy to kidnap and 26 counts of kidnapping.
On Tuesday, the National Prosecutions Authority declined to prosecute the matter. Phosa said his clients were overjoyed with the decision and were now looking forward to the compensation promised to them in the late 1990s.
“They have always maintained that the charges proffered against the veterans were trumped up, more so in the light of earlier threats by the state that it would charge our clients with treason and terrorism,” he said.