Release military vets accused of holding Modise, Gungubele and Makwetla hostage - Carl Niehaus
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Johannesburg - Suspended ANC member and former MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus called on the government to release the 56 military veterans that were arrested for the alleged hostage situation on Thursday night.
The 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.
Niehaus said the government and the ANC should have been sensitive to the frustration and desperation displayed by the veterans and engaged with them.
“The crisis that erupted last night (Thursday night) with the alleged hostage of the two ministers and deputy is long in the making. It relates to the manner in which the government has failed to address the very light image demands of 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 SANDF and SAPS, is unacceptable,” said Niehaus.
He added there was a committee formed by President Cyril Ramaphosa under Deputy President David Mabuza and that particular committee heard the concerns and demands of the military veterans and those of members of the MKMVA.
“Unfortunately, the response from the committee has been slow. It has not related properly to the concerns of the military veterans on the day after the desperate action by the war veterans who occupied Luthuli House in desperation to get the South African government, specifically the ANC, to pay attention to the needs of the veterans.
“The fact that Mabuza failed to honour the meeting that was agreed to at St Georges in Irene brought the matter to a head. We are not in favour of any violence, and we understand the expression of frustration should not translate into violence. However, we are deeply concerned about the manner in which the government responded and used force to arrest them.
“I also understand that three members are injured. Stun grenades were used on them by the special forces. All of this is unacceptable. Instead of using force, the government and the ANC should have been sensitive to the frustration that built up. We called on the government to release them. We call on them to engage with the veterans,” Niehaus said.
The veterans have demanded that Ramaphosa intervenes in their plight, saying that the ministers sent to them were still new, describing one of them as "arrogant“.
Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim, in a tweet, said: “Eish, we back to the apartheid regime in action: if you stand on the side of the working class and their plight, this arrest of MK, PAC And Azapo armed forces is the complete liquidation of the liberation struggle and its revolutionary military forces are ejection with their heritage.
“Ramaphosa's government lives in its own balloon, and they are detached from the plight of the very same people they are supposed to serve. if anything, all they did for workers is tell them that they deserve to get rid of all their wages they secured under PW Botha: they must be paid R21 NMW per/h.”
COPE National spokesperson Dennis Bloem said the government must take full responsibility for playing politics with the safety and security of the country.
“This is another clear sign that South Africa is fast moving into being a failed State. The ANC government has failed to lead this country,” said Bloem.