Three South African ministers freed after standoff with veterans

More than 50 people are arrested after veterans hold ministers hostage demanding compensation for anti-apartheid fight.

South African special forces have freed three government ministers held hostage by veterans demanding compensation for their role in the fight against apartheid, according to officials.

The incident occurred in a hotel in the capital, Pretoria, on Thursday night during a meeting with veterans and top government officials, including Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, Defence Minister Thandi Modise and her deputy Thabang Makwetla.

“As we were leaving the meeting, proceeding to the doors, they closed the doors. It was at that point that we realised that we were held hostage,” Gungubele said in a video statement.

“It’s a situation which was averted by the security forces, very effectively and successfully.”

“We expect the law to follow its course in dealing with behaviour of this nature,” he added.

The ministers are leading a team to discuss demands by veterans aligned with the liberation movements that fought to topple white-minority rule more than 20 years ago.

Dozens arrested

Police said 56 people were arrested, and no shots were fired during the incident. It was not immediately clear how long the standoff lasted.

“They are likely to face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping,” police spokesman Vish Naidoo said in a statement.

“After attempts to negotiate with the hostage takers to release the hostages had failed, police resorted to a tactical approach and successfully rescued the hostages,” he said.

The veterans were demanding to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss their demands including a four-million-rand ($270,000) cash payout and additional financing to help veterans start businesses.

There was no immediate statement from any of the arrested people or any lawyers representing them.

Source: News Agencies