Modise: My life was not in danger

2021-Oct-16   09:48

Modise: My life was not in danger
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise,
Source: Parliament za/ Website

- Larson Thebe

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise, said she never felt that her life was in danger during the time she and colleagues were held hostage on Thursday night.

Modise, her Deputy Thabang Makwetla and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, were held hostage by military veterans of former political parties for hours at St Georges Hotel in Irene, Pretoria.

Modise was speaking during a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday by the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans to update the public on government's interventions and the comprehensive approach to address the challenges faced by the liberation army veterans.

“We are very proud as South Africa to engage, to sit amongst our communities, and amongst our military veterans without thinking that they will kill us. At some point they were singing liberation songs and some of us joined in, because they were our songs too. We did not feel that our lives were in danger. We were unhappy about being refused to leave when the meeting clearly had aborted,” said Modise.

She said the incident shows that the country is not a security heavy state and that a delegation of ministers had met the veterans before without any security concerns. Modise stressed that the law must take its course and said government would not interfere with the investigations or get involved in calls for the charges to be dropped.

“We do not think that any citizen, whether they had volunteered to fight for the liberation of this county, has any right to interfere with any individual.  Whether that individual is a Minister or ordinary citizen’s right to sit, or to walk or to do whatever. That is the crux of what we are taking issue with here. No legitimate demand of any citizen gives that citizen the right to deprive the other citizens,” added Modise.

Gungubele dismissed reports that government has neglected the veterans' concerns and said they have placed them at the heart of policy interventions.

“Government recognizes and acknowledges the immense contribution these men and women made to the liberation of South Africa. Their recognition was even highlighted with the formation of the Military Veterans Department.

"Some of the work done includes a draft bill to amend the military veterans act to deal with some of the discrepancies in the bill such as the definition of a military veteran, review of the special pensions act, expansion of criminal records, social relief of distress and housing, repatriation of the remains of the military veterans and the erection of monuments in the host countries,” highlighted Gungubele.

Speaking during the launch of the National Safer Festive Season in Brits in the North West, Minister of Police Bheki Cele, applauded the work done by the police's special force that rescued the ministers.

“We sent negotiators, they failed and that’s when we sent in the special forces. They rescued the ministers, arrested everyone involved. No shots were fired. The police arrived there at 21:50 and by 22:00, the ministers were rescued and people arrested. It was one of the peaceful operations,” explained Cele.

Fifty-six veterans that were arrested during the hostage drama are expected to appear in court soon.  

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