Johannesburg - The 53 military veterans accused of taking members of Cabinet hostage in October last year appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, where charges against them were dropped.
The case was postponed in February to allow the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a decision on the matter.
The National Prosecuting Authority's regional spokesperson for North Gauteng, Lumka Mahanjana, confirmed that the case had been withdrawn following successful representations made by the accused’s defence team.
The 53 military veterans were facing charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and 26 counts of kidnapping.
The State had also intended to add charges relating to terrorism but decided against doing so.
The charges emanated from an incident that occurred at the Saint George’s Hotel in Irene, south of Pretoria.
Members of Cabinet were held hostage by the military veterans for three hours. Defence Minister Thandi Modise, her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele were among those held against their will.
The group of veterans, comprising uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) members, former members of the Pan Africanist Congress’s Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) and Azapo’s Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla), demanded an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza.
They demanded millions of rand in reparations for their role in fighting apartheid.
On May 14, Mabuza, in his capacity as chairperson of the presidential task team on military veterans, visited the North West to engage with the provincial government and representatives of various military veterans’ associations to address some of the issues raised by the disgruntled veterans.
One such issue was that veterans should receive pensions to assist them with their day-to-day expenses.
Mabuza stated: “One service that has been a challenge was the pension roll-out. I am glad to say we have overcome that hurdle. We have finally approved the pension roll-out, which we think will go a long way to assist our military veterans. We want to see this pension being rolled out as soon as possible, without delay.”