42 of the 53 people accused of holding two ministers, deputy minister hostage granted bail

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Military veterans at a small court inside Kgosi Mampuru prison during their first appearance after holding cabinet ministers hostage in Irene last week. (Photo: Supplied, Jacques Nelles/Pool8BIM)
Military veterans at a small court inside Kgosi Mampuru prison during their first appearance after holding cabinet ministers hostage in Irene last week. (Photo: Supplied, Jacques Nelles/Pool8BIM)
  • Forty-two of the 53 people accused of taking two ministers and a deputy minister hostage last week have been released on bail. 
  • One of the accused is still in hospital, while 11 others will apply for bail on Friday. 
  • According to the State, the 11 accused have previous convictions ranging from robbery to murder. 

Eleven of the 53 military veterans accused of taking two ministers and a deputy minister hostage have previous convictions ranging from robbery to murder, the Pretoria Magistrate's Court heard on Tuesday. 

Of the 53 accused, 42 were granted R500 bail each as the State did not oppose the applications. One accused did not appear in court as he was still in hospital and 11 others would formally apply for bail on Friday.

The court heard that the 11 accused had previous convictions, with one of the accused out on parole for murder at the time of the alleged hostage situation. 

The State did not specify the convictions of each of the 11 accused, but said the crimes ranged from robbery to murder. Of those who had previous convictions according to the State, the legal representative of Zakhele Ximba, said the information was incorrect. They argued that Ximba did not have any previous convictions. 

READ HERE | Ministers say hostage ordeal was a sign of ‘maturing democracy’

State prosecutor, advocate Sanet Jacobson, said most of the accused's profiles were checked on the fingerprint database, but Ximba's profile was not. Some of the accused had their profiles checked via their ID numbers. She added that the Ximba had a pending matter as well.

It was further alleged, that another accused, who was listed as having a previous conviction was granted amnesty in 1994. The court asked that the amnesty deal be submitted to it. It was not specified what the crime was. On Friday, the court was expected to hear whether the State was opposing the remaining bail applications. 

Continuous assault

During the bail applications on Tuesday, advocate Dali Mpofu, SC, representing 30 of the accused, raised issues around what he said was the "continuous assault of the accused". 

He further alleged that cellphones were confiscated from the accused without their permission, while they were also forced to hand over their pin numbers for investigations.

New charges 

The court also heard that the charge sheet had been amended, with the accused now facing 27 charges. The 53 accused face one charge of conspiracy to kidnap and 26 charges of kidnapping.

READ | Govt promising land, farms, and housing to disgruntled war veterans after ministers' hostage drama

It is alleged that there were 26 people at the meeting, who were allegedly held hostage. 

Originally, it was contended that only Minister of Defence Thandi Modise, her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele and two bodyguards were allegedly held hostage. It was also reiterated by the State that the possibility of adding terrorism related charges had not been ruled out.

News24 reported on Monday that the State was in discussions about adding terrorism related charges.

If a decision was taken to add terrorism charges, they would first have to be authorised by the National Director of Public Prosecutions before adding them to the charge sheet, Jacobson added.

News24 previously reported the hostage drama started at 19:15 last Thursday at St George's Hotel when a group of military veterans demanded an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy, David Mabuza, to address their concerns.

Modise, Makwetla, Gungubele were allegedly held hostage for close to three hours.

The group of veterans, who met with the government, was demanding millions in reparations for their role in the anti-apartheid struggle.

The group included MKMVA members as well as former members of the Pan Africanist Congress' Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) and Azapo's Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla).

The police earlier reported that 56 people were arrested, however in court, 52 accused were present, while one was in hospital.

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