Members of uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) accused of holding three ministers hostage
in a hotel last week will be in the dock again on Tuesday to apply for bail.
The 52 suspects, aged between 27 and 68 years, appeared in the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre court on Monday after they were arrested at the St George’s Hotel in Irene last Thursday.
One suspect was not in court as he was reportedly in hospital. The group was escorted into the court by armed police officers.
They sang and danced while they waited for proceedings to begin in the small courtroom. Each accused was handed a paper with their number on and squeezed onto the benches behind the dock.
The case was postponed. Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said the 53 suspects were facing charges under the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act after allegedly holding Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise and with her deputy Thabang Makwetla hostage.
Political analyst Piet Croucamp said the so-called hostage situation was more criminally than politically driven.
“These guys are a group that was not necessarily known in the past as veterans. Some of them still work for the government,” he said.
He said the group’s intention was not to take over the state’s authority or an attack on the democratic government.
“They actually acted like criminals to keep people from seeing if they could get answers about their money. It was more like an attempt at extortion,” he said.
Dr Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said the incident was less a security incident than a political incident.
“It’s almost like a domestic dispute. It is an ANC veterans’ organisation that came into a debate with the ANC leadership. It is still the ANC, within political battles, that has resulted in this incident.”
He said calling it a hostage situation was an exaggeration.
“Looking at the situation itself, the veterans just closed the doors and refused to let them out. There was no mention of weapons being held or demands of ransom made.
“The ministers’ personal guards were apparently there and were armed and there is not a single word of the
veteran having weapons.”
Political analyst Daniel Silke said there seemed to be a general deterioration in the political expression taking place within SA.
“It’s now an issue that affects the ANC among the supporters and own subgroup. No-one is now safe from this messy political discord. Even a senior minister and, ironically, the minister of defence, could extricate themselves from what could have been a dangerous situation but, ultimately, was an embarrassing situation for the minister,” Silke said.
He added this was a reflection of the continued internal instability within the broader ANC.
“The dissatisfaction with leadership figures that exist within the ANC and unravelling of the broader ANC and its own relationship within its own family,” he said.
“If your family was going to hold you hostage, then you can imagine the family relations were breaking down pretty dramatically. The glue of the ANC is coming unstuck internally.”