Disbanded MKMVA want govt to release the 56 accused of holding two ministers and a deputy hostage

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  • On Thursday evening, two ministers and a deputy were allegedly held hostage by military veterans at a hotel in Pretoria. 
  • The disbanded MKMVA has demanded that the 56 people arrested in connection with the incident be immediately released. 
  • The suspects are expected to appear in court on Monday. 

The disbanded Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has called on government to release the 56 people arrested for allegedly holding two ministers and a deputy hostage on Thursday evening.

In a statement, the MKMVA said it was deeply concerned about the events that unfolded at the St George's Hotel in Pretoria where Minister of Defence Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele were allegedly held hostage for close to three hours.

News24 previously reported the hostage drama started at 19:15 when the group demanded an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy, David Mabuza, to address their concerns.

The group, which met with government, are demanding millions in reparations for their role in the anti-apartheid struggle.

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

READ | We told our protectors to stand back - Minister Gungubele details hostage situation with military vets

Carl Niehaus, the former MKMVA spokesperson, in part, blamed the disbanding of structures, including the MKMVA and the South African Military Veterans Association, and government's failure to address their concerns, for the incident.

"As a consequence, military veterans are feeling despondent and leaderless. This created a dangerous vacuum," Niehaus said.

"MKMVA warned in several statements about the dangers of these developments. Our genuinely held concerns are now confirmed by what happened. Our government is reaping the bitter fruits of what they have sowed."

Niehaus added that it was understandable that the group were frustrated and unhappy when Mabuza did not attend the meeting, however, he said the events that unfolded were not that of a hostage situation.

"It is not correct, and unnecessarily alarmist, to allege that a hostage situation unfolded at the St George's Hotel and Conference Centre. At no stage was there any violence or threat to the lives of the two ministers and deputy minister."

READ | Mabuza to meet military veterans demanding government jobs, millions in gratuity payments

Niehaus added that it was an overreaction to send in the police's special task force, "which used excessive force to resolve a non-existent hostage and non-violent situation".

The MKMVA called on the government to release the 56 people and to engage with the military veterans instead of being overly defensive and aggressive.

Following the arrests, police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: "At least 56 people, including seven women, have been arrested, and they are likely to face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping. While processing the suspects, three of them have been taken for medical checks after they complained of pains."

The suspects are expected to make their first appearance in court on Monday.

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