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Fury at wannabe soldiers' arrest

By unknown | Sep 01, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Leaders of the South African Unintegrated Forces have expressed outrage after the arrest of 300 "soldiers" on Friday morning at their training camp, Mlaba Camp, near Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve outside Ulundi.

The "soldiers", mainly members of the IFP's former self-protection unit, were undergoing military training at the camp when they were arrested - just hours before they could converge on Ulundi for a merger with other ex-combatants and former Zulu Police (ZP).

Zenzele Sishi, acting deputy president, said the merger did not take place after the arrests.

He also expressed concern that only those based in Ulundi were targeted and arrested.

"There is another camp in Eshowe and it would have made sense to us had we heard reports that the police were going to take the same action against those in Eshowe so that this will not be seen as politically motivated.

"The government must not be seen as taking sides," Sishi said.

He said the soldiers' leaders would be in court today to support those arrested.

"We are still trying to arrange bail for them," he said.

Sishi said the failed attempted merger was no different from their previous attempts to be integrated into the defence force.

"We made several representations before to Defence Minister Mosioua Lekota and President Thabo Mbeki, but were told the integration process had been closed.

"In our view it should be reopened to accommodate those that were left out," he said.

Soldiers made headlines in October 2006 when they occupied a section of the farm Leeukop for a week on their way to Swaziland and Mozambique for military training.

After failing to cross the borders they opened new camps in Mandeni and later in Eshowe.

Police spokesman director Phindile Hadebe said those arrested were expected to appear in the Mahlabathini magistrate's court today and were charged with contravening the Criminal Law Second Amendment Act of 1992, which prohibits the training of people for "the conducting of any military, paramilitary or similar operation".


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