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'ANC has deserted us'

By unknown | Jun 18, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Disgruntled members of the South African Unintegrated Forces, who have been living in the bush since October, have accused the ANC of deserting them.

Earlier this year the soldiers, who are camped in a field at Eshowe on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, ditched the IFP for the ANC in the hope their plight would be taken more seriously.

But the soldiers now feel their new political comrades have deserted them. They said the party had failed to honour its promise to have them integrated into the South African National Defence Force.

Zenzele Sishi, a leader of the 628 soldiers, said they were disappointed at the manner in which the ANC had handled the matter.

"We hoped that the party would welcome us. To us, the ANC was the party that would never leave us in the dark. But the party officials at the regional office in Durban told me that they don't trust us," said Sishi.

He said despite going to great lengths to prove to the party that the soldiers were ANC members, nothing had changed.

"They said that we are unreliable. They said if we could dump the IFP, why would we not do the same to them," said Sishi.

Now the soldiers are more determined to make their voices heard.

"We have braved the coldest weather since arriving here and we are determined to stay here.

"We are trained soldiers and a soldier does not give up. We are not going to succumb. We are still planning our way forward," he said.

The soldiers made headlines last year when they camped near the Pongola River. They claimed they were on their way to Swaziland and Mozambique for military training.

Some of them were arrested when they clashed with the police after they invaded a local farm.

They only left the farm after MEC for safety and security Bheki Cele, who is also the provincial ANC chairman, intervened.

From Pongola, they moved to Mandeni and camped in Wangu. While there, two of them - Samkeliso Makhathini and Sibusiso Dube - were shot dead by suspected robbers.

When contacted, ANC deputy provincial spokesman Mbuso Kubheka referred all queries to Cele. Cele was, however, not available for comment.


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