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War vets demand meeting with president before the end of February

LSWV members who allegedly held ministers hostage last year say there is a plot to criminalise and isolate them

01 February 2022 - 17:22
The Liberation Struggle War Veterans marched to the Union Buildings on Tuesday to hand over a memorandum to President Cyril Ramaphosa. They were still waiting at 3.30pm, after turning away a presidential representative.
The Liberation Struggle War Veterans marched to the Union Buildings on Tuesday to hand over a memorandum to President Cyril Ramaphosa. They were still waiting at 3.30pm, after turning away a presidential representative.
Image: Shonisani Tshikalange

The Liberation Struggle War Veterans (LSWV) say the case against 53 people accused of holding ministers hostage last year is being used to scare them away from what they deserve. They are calling for all charges to be dropped.

The group’s members marched to the Union Buildings on Tuesday to hand over a memorandum to President Cyril Ramaphosa, shortly after the case was postponed.

“We understand that the arrest of 53 comrades who are appearing in Pretoria court was planned by the state to silence the ex-combatants.

“We are also aware that the events that led to the arrest of these comrades have signs of a carefully planned plot to criminalise and isolate some veterans from the liberation struggle history and later from the talks about reparations,” it said.

The accused appeared at the Pretoria magistrate’s court, where they face one count of conspiracy to kidnap and 26 counts of kidnapping. This after they allegedly held defence minister Thandi Modise and other government officials hostage during a meeting last year.

Struggle veterans sing and chant in the Pretoria magistrate's court.
Struggle veterans sing and chant in the Pretoria magistrate's court.
Image: Shonisani Tshikalange

It is alleged the group stormed into the Saint George Hotel, where they closed entrances and barricaded doors with chairs, telling the ministerial delegation that no-one could leave until the president or deputy president addressed their issues.

The 26 delegates were kept in the venue for three hours.

The defence is expected to make representations to the director of public prosecutions (DPP) on April 20. It and the state will discuss the outcomes thereof on May 12.

The case has been postponed to May 15 for the DPP’s decision.

The accused were granted bail of R500 each on October 20 2021.

The veterans said the case involved concealing challenges faced by liberation struggle war veterans and hiding the truth about reparations.

They are, among other things, demanding to meet the president by no later than the end of February.

“We demand the meeting with the state president because we noted that the presidential task team and Deputy President David Mabuza are not discussing in good faith. The presidential task team seems to be a tool for factions, or maybe a faction in itself that is not prepared to serve the interests of veterans, except for a few,” their memorandum said.

Addressing the group outside the Union Buildings, one of their attorneys, Andries Nkome, said they were pushing hard to have some members’ phones returned. The devices were confiscated when they were arrested. The court heard that the state and defence were going to discuss the matter.

At 3.30pm on Tuesday, the group was still waiting to hand the memorandum to Ramaphosa after turning away a representative who had been sent to receive it.

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