Tensions escalated and metro police were called to a Durban hotel when a group of military vets refused to leave on Wednesday.
The vets, flood victims who had been booked into the Royal Hotel on Anton Lembede St (formerly Smith St), had been attending a conference for counselling, understood that they were scheduled to stay at the hotel for several days. However, their stay was cut short on Wednesday when hotel staff locked them out of their rooms — raising an issue about payment for the extended stay.
MKMVA member Thulani Biyela, 49, said they were called for counselling as many of their members in the province had been affected by the recent floods and had lost their homes.
“We stayed overnight but they didn't tell us what the programme would include. Today (Wednesday) they gave us a programme and said after it is done we must leave in the afternoon. They said a few people would be selected to stay behind and continue with the programme.”
Biyela said MKMVA members were not satisfied with how the department of military veterans (DMV) had organised the conference.
“A lot of us travelled here and now we must pack up and leave when they said we should come for three days. Some of us have lost everything and they didn't come with all the relevant departments to help us. They are just opening old wounds from what we endured in the floods.”
Another member, Dudu Phakathi, 46, said the DMV had left them high and dry and was not willing to communicate the problem with them, ending in a stalemate between those attending the conference and hotel staff.
“We demand to see the financials of DMV because they told us we must come for three days and now they are kicking us out. Where is this money going if it is not being used for us to get the counselling and support we need?”
Hotel managers declined to comment.
In October dozens of military vets were arrested in Johannesburg after a hostage situation played out in Centurion when defence and military veterans minister Thandi Modise and her deputy Thabang Makwetla were allegedly kept against their will at St George Hotel in Centurion.
The state has since withdrawn the case against the 53 military vets charged in the matter.