Cape Town — Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, and Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla were held hostage by disgruntled military veterans who said the government failed to address their demands.
The ministers were attending a meeting to discuss the plight of the former soldiers of the African National Congress's military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe.
They were rescued by the police Special Task Force at the St George's Hotel in Irene, Gauteng, where they were held.
The war veterans had refused to release the officials until their demands, that included a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa, were met. However, the police arrested 56 members of the Liberation Struggle War Veterans, charging them with three counts of kidnapping.
Police say the ministers were not injured.
Mondli Gungubele thanked the police for rescuing him and his colleagues from a traumatic hostage incident. "We would like to thank Minister Bheki Cele and all the other security forces for their prompt and timeous intervention. We expect the law to follow its course."
Meanwhile, former ANC member Carl Niehaus has called on the government to release the 56 military veterans.
Military veterans have been treated poorly for many years, and the legitimate demand in terms of the need for them to be employed, housing, medical care, especially in the manner in which they are treated in the integration to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Police Service (SAPS), is unacceptable," said Niehaus.