Police arrest 56 suspects for taking Cabinet Ministers hostage
About 56 suspects were arrested on Thursday in Centurion after they allegedly held hostage two Cabinet Ministers - Mondli Gungubele ([Presidency) and Thandi Modise (Defence and Military Veterans) and her Deputy Thabang Mokwetla.
In a video posted on Twitter later in the evening, Gungubele confirmed the incident. According to reports, the incident occurred at the St Georges Hotel in Irene, Centurion.
He said: “We found ourselves in a situation which I consider untenable, legally unacceptable, where we thought we were in a meeting [which] its intention was to attend to matters that affect military veterans.
“We could not agree on how the meeting should take place. We reached a point where I thought we were agreeing that it should adjourn.”
As the Ministers attempted to leave the meeting venue, he said members of the military veterans’ contingent closed the doors.
“It is at this point that we realised that we were being held hostage. It is a situation that was averted by the security forces, very effectively and successfully. We want to thank [Police] Minister Bheki Cele and all other security forces, whatever branch that was involved for the prompt and timeous intervention,” he said.
He said they expected the law to take its cause "in dealing with the behaviour of this nature".
The intervention was on Thursday evening confirmed by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJoints) in a statement.
NATJoints spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “This evening police successfully rescued at least three hostages at a hotel in Centurion, Pretoria”.
The drama is said to have begun at 7:15pm when police received a report of a possible hostage situation in which two Cabinet Ministers and a Deputy Minister were allegedly taken hostage.
He said: “After attempts to negotiate with the hostage takers to release the hostages had failed, police resorted to a tactical approach and successfully rescued the hostages”.
There were no shots fired during the rescue.
Naidoo said at least 56 people, including seven women, were arrested and were likely to face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping.
“While processing the suspects, three of them have been taken for medical checks after they complained of pains,” he said.