Fifty-six people have been arrested in South Africa after three ministers were taken hostage at a hotel in the capital Pretoria, police said on Friday.
“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,” police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said in a statement.
Disgruntled veterans of the Liberation Struggle War, who are protesting against the government’s failure to pay them reparations, briefly held Defense Minister Thandi Modise, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, and Deputy Defense Minister Thabang Makwetla on Thursday night before they were rescued.
Naidoo said shots were not fired during the rescue mission. Among the 56 arrested are seven women, he said, and they will likely face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping.
Speaking in a video message shortly after he was rescued, Gungubele described the situation as “untenable” and “legally unacceptable”.
“We thought we were in a meeting whose intention was to attend to problems facing military veterans. We could not agree on how the meeting should take place and we reached a point where we thought we were agreeing it should be adjourned,” the minister said.
He said as they were leaving the meeting, the military veterans closed the doors and at that point they realized that they were held hostage.
Gungubele thanked the security agencies for prompt and timely interventions.