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Johannesburg - The Military Veterans Department has condemned the violent protests at the Germiston Civic Centre, in Ekurhuleni, on Monday.
“We urgently call on those involved to immediately desist from violent action lest they face the full might of the law,” said department director general Tsepe Motumi.
“Whilst military veterans, like any other citizens, have a right to peaceful protest, violent protests are totally unacceptable,” he said.
Ekurhuleni mayoral spokesman Zweli Dlamini said about 100 people trashed and looted the civic centre, which accommodates the executive mayor, speaker, chief whip, staff and political parties.
They damaged furniture, fridges and computers and also stole things.
Several staff members were injured in the unrest, and others had to receive counselling.
Around 60 people were arrested and charged with theft, vandalism, trespassing and assault. They would appear in court soon.
Dlamini did not believe the attackers were military veterans.
“We had a bunch of people masquerading as former MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe) members,” he said.
“Surprisingly, some of them were in their mid-20s. They were not even born during times of the struggle.”
He said it was unclear what the group wanted, as it did not communicate any demands to officials.
However, Motumi called on the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality to work with his department to find a peaceful solution for the veterans.
“The department will tomorrow (Tuesday) be sending a team of senior officials to meet with the various stakeholders in Ekurhuleni to assist in finding lasting solutions,” he said.
The Democratic Alliance claimed the MK veterans were demanding payouts from the demilitarisation programme for their part in the struggle.
DA Ekurhuleni leader Shelly Loe said the African National Congress could have prevented the unrest.
“The ruling party's refusal to deal with the unhappiness of the MK veterans left innocent staff members vulnerable,” she said. - Sapa