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'Hungry dogs' warn of chaos

By unknown | Dec 04, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Disgruntled soldiers who were not integrated into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) brought the small town of Mandeni, northern KwaZulu-Natal, to a complete standstill during a peaceful, but tense protest at the weekend.

More than 50 police officers kept a close watch on the more than 1000 men of the South African Unintegrated Forces (SAUF) as they took to the streets of Mandeni demanding that they be incorporated into the SANDF.

They have been living at Matigulu Camp for the past three months after being kicked off a Pongola farm. The soldiers made headlines in October when they invaded a farm in Pongola, north of KwaZulu-Natal, claiming that they were on their way to Mozambique and Swaziland for military training.

After being kicked off the farm, they went to Matigulu, where they set up base. They are still there. During Friday's march, they demanded that President Thabo Mbeki intervene.

Sakhile Kubheka, a camp commander, said they were being sidelined "unfairly" after being trained for combat.

"We belong to this liberated country and we were part of its liberation," he said.

Zakhele Sishi, the group's leader, warned that the country would find itself in turmoil if their demands were not met. He said they weren't rebels, but a group of dissatisfied, trained soldiers.

"It is wrong to disregard people like us, because no one knows what we are planning in the bush. We've been there for far too long and our patience is running out," warned Sishi.

A visibly annoyed Sishi said the forthcoming World Cup in 2010 would be disrupted if nothing was done to help them.

"A hungry dog is very dangerous and we are hungry. We left our families, our children and we won't succumb until we get what we want," he said.

Luvuyo Goniwe from the office of the MEC for community safety accepted the memorandum and promised that it would reach Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota.


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