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Why NPA dropped case against military vets accused of holding ministers hostage

Some of the war veterans in court after their arrest. File photo.
Some of the war veterans in court after their arrest. File photo.
Image: Jacques Nelles/Pool Feed/The Citizen

'No proof' is the reason the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has given for the case against 52 liberation struggle war veterans being withdrawn. 

In October 2021, a group of military veterans allegedly held ministers Thandi Modise and Mondli Gungubele hostage at the St George's Hotel, forcing police and security forces to intervene and carry out arrests. 

The group appeared at the Pretoria magistrate's court on Tuesday where the case was withdrawn. 

Explaining this development, NPA spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said the decision came after careful consideration of the docket and representations made by the defence.

“The director of public prosecutions in the Gauteng division, Pretoria, decided to withdraw the charges against the war veterans,” she said, adding that the state was of the view that there was no prima facie case because neither the identities nor the individual acts committed by each individual accused could be proven.

“The manner in which the arrest was conducted also complicated identification as everyone on the scene was arrested except for the hostage victims. A process of elimination was then used to establish who were the attendees and/or employees of the hotel and who were the actual captors.

“After that process the police released some of the people who could not be linked before they even appeared in court. The accused now before court cannot be linked to the offences for the reasons stated,” she said.

Mahanjana said the complainants were also reluctant to proceed with the matter and sympathised with the accused. In their statements some indicated that they joined in the singing and dancing in the room with the veterans.

“One witness said in his statement that there was never a hostile environment in the room. Witnesses were unable to identify who performed what act at the scene.”

She said to date no further representations for reinstating prosecution from the complainants had been received.

After the incident in October, Gungubele spoke on a video, calling the incident “untenable and legally unacceptable”. He said the meeting broke down when consensus couldn't be reached, and it was said that a decision was taken to adjourn.

“As we were leaving the meeting, proceeding to the doors, they [the military veterans] closed the doors. It is at that point we realised we were held hostage. It is a situation which was averted by the security forces, very effectively and successfully,” he said, adding that he hoped the “law would take its course”.

TimesLIVE


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