JOHANNESBURG – Defence Minister Thandi Modise and her Deputy Thabang Makwetla alongside Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele were held hostage by disgruntled military veterans on Thursday night but were later released.
It emerged that talks between the Presidential Task Team and the ex-combatants broke down and both parties could not reach an agreement.
The drama reportedly unfolded at the St Georges Hotel near Irene in Gauteng with members refusing to release the officials until their demands were met – this includes a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
This event follows a sit-in protest by the irate veterans at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters early this week.
Detailing what transpired, Gungubele said they were about to leave the meeting when all the doors were closed by some of the military veterans attending the meeting.
“It is at that point we realised we were being held, hostage. It is a situation that was averted by the security forces very effectively and successfully. We want to thank Minister Bheki Cele and all security forces and whatever branch was involved for a prompt and timeous intervention… We expect the law to follow its course in dealing with the behaviour of this nature,” he said.
NATJoints said the police’s negotiation attempts with the hostage-takers failed.
“At least 56 people, including seven women, have been arrested and they are likely to face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping. Police successfully rescued at least three hostages.”
It said no shots were fired during the rescue operation; however, Eyewitness News understands that there have been several injures and that tear gas was used.
There has been no word on the state of the ministers, but Gungubele has made a public statement shortly after the rescue.
Minister in the Presidency, Mr Mondli Gungubele gives an account of the incident which occurred at St George’s Hotel earlier this evening during a meeting between the Presidential Task Team on Matters of Military Veterans and Military Veterans. pic.twitter.com/RYcNq5Pwbf
— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) October 14, 2021
“We could not agree on how the meeting should take place; we reached a point where I thought we were agreeing that it should adjourn. As we were leaving the meeting, they closed the doors, and it is at that point when we were realized that we were held, hostage.”
He has thanked Police Minister Bheki Cele and all other security forces for their intervention.