Defence Minister Thandi Modise condemned the events on Thursday, which saw disgruntled military veterans apparently hold her, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele hostage after an unsuccessful meeting.
The veterans refused to release the officials until their demands were met, including a demand for a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Special forces had to intervene and 56 people were arrested.
Modise said there was no reason for the military veterans, who called the meeting to demand reparations, to act in an unlawful manner.
The veterans want government to pay them a once-off gratuity of R4.2-million, provide assistance from financial institutions to help them establish businesses, and set up medical insurance for their families.
Modise has assured that she will be investigating the finances of the Department of Military Veterans.
“I want to find out where the resources have gone, why the lives of veterans have not improved and why the veterans are not in the houses the State have gone all out to build. Why they do not have access to all the clinics and hospitals in the country. And why, because we said they have education benefits, their children’s school fees were not paid,” she said.
Modise stated that the Department of Military Veterans was established to ensure that no South African military veteran is treated in a sub-human manner.
She explained that she was hoping to have another meeting with specific veterans, despite her unhappiness at the manner in which the veterans handled the situation.
“We did not feel that our lives were in danger but we were unhappy about being refused permission to leave when the meeting clearly had aborted; we do not think any citizens, whether they had volunteered to fight for the liberation of this country, has any right to interfere with any individual’s – whether that individual is the Minister or an ordinary citizen – right to sit or to walk or to do whatever,” she said.
She said Thursday’s incident indicated that South Africa is not a heavy-handed State and that Ministers will go to any length to hear concerns of any citizens.
Gungubele said the engagements between government and the military associations have so far been productive and cordial even though discussions have been difficult, adding that there was no reason for this group to act in an unlawful manner.