56 arrested in South Africa for holding officials hostage

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South Africa's Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Thandi Modise, who together with her deputy and other officials, were blocked from leaving a conference center in Pretoria on October 14, 2021. (Getty Images)

A total of 56 veterans were arrested on Thursday night after South African police rescued three officials who were held hostage.

The Liberation Struggle War Veterans blocked Defense and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla, and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele from leaving a meeting, where they were discussing veterans’ demands for government assistance at the St. George’s Conference Center in Pretoria, one of South Africa’s three capital cities.

The veterans include members of various armed groups that fought apartheid, who had demonstrated outside the headquarters of the African National Congress this week and demanded 4.2 million South African Rands each.

Gungubele recalled that the group refused to negotiate with anyone but President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza, and then locked all doors to prevent the ministers from leaving.

“It is a situation that was averted by the security forces very effectively and successfully … We expect the law to follow its course in dealing with behavior of this nature,” Gungubele said.

“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. There were no shots fired during the rescue,” said police spokesperson Vish Naidoo in a statement released Friday.

“At least 56 people, including seven women, have been arrested, and they are likely to face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping,” read the statement.

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