Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise said that, although she and two other ministers held hostage on Thursday evening did not feel their lives were in danger, they were "unhappy" at being held against their will.
Modise, her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele were rescued by the Special Task Force Unit at St George's Conference Centre in Irene, Pretoria, after being held hostage by disgruntled military veterans.
The unit, assisted by the military police and SAPS, swooped in after the group had blocked the three ministers from leaving a meeting, which was meant to discuss their demands for government assistance. At least 56 people were arrested, and three were injured.
On Friday, Modise told reporters the fact that, as heavily guarded ministers, they could end up being held hostage showed that South Africa "isn't a security heavy state".
"It shows that ministers still trust fellow citizens to sit around with them. It also demonstrates that we will go to any instance to hear concerns about any citizen," she said.
READ | We told our protectors to stand back - Minister Gungubele details hostage situation with military vets
Modise said that, at one point during the meeting, members of the government delegation even joined the military veterans as they sang liberation songs - "because they were our songs too".
"We did not feel that our lives were in danger. We were unhappy about being refused to leave when the meeting had clearly aborted.
"We do not think that any citizen, whether they had volunteered to fight for the liberation of this country, has any right to interfere with any individual."
Modise said no legitimate demand of any citizen gives one a right to deprive the other citizen.
She said their protectors were at the meeting, but they were not "tempted to beat up anybody".
They knew that we could hold our own. What was taking place within those doors were people talking, differing on issues. It wasn't a bloodbath. It was people saying, 'but you are not understanding our point of view' and us saying 'but we want to really understand your point of view…
Modise said they would not tolerate acts of disregarding the rights of others "because that is criminal and, when the police came in, they were not dealing with anything else, but the violation of people's rights".
Meanwhile, Police Minister Bheki Cele told the SABC he realised there was a "problem" at the venue when he tried to reach out to Gungubele, but the call was cut short.
Cele says he tried to reach out to Minister in the Presidency, Minister Mondli Gungubele but that call was cut short, then @SAPoliceService had to be called in starting with negotiators then the Special Task Force. Cele says the operation was conducted without a shot fired. pic.twitter.com/uMDWG3wmHT— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) October 15, 2021
He said they sent negotiators to the venue - and then the police task team "came in and did the job, took the ministers out and arrested everybody. No shot was fired, nobody got injured".
"It was one of the peaceful operations … no blood split, nobody shot, the law was enforced, and the people were protected," he added.
Never miss a story. Choose from our range of newsletters to get the news you want delivered straight to your inbox.