The failure to issue service certificates to recognise former members of the erstwhile self-defence units (SDUs) has angered many of them who have been struggling to access their military veterans’ benefits.
About 100 members of the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) members from Ekurhuleni townships of Katlehong‚ Thokoza and Vosloorus descended on Johannesburg yesterday to try to get the matter resolved.
They were unhappy with the MKMVA’s failure to issue their service certificates – which allow them to access military veterans’ benefits‚ such as housing‚ special pensions and housing.
The SDUs were the last internal unit of uMkhonto weSizwe‚ the ANC’s military wing.
The SDU veterans‚ who are said to be all above the age of 45‚ are mostly from Katlehong‚ Thokoza‚ Vosloorus as well as other Ekurhuleni areas like Tembisa‚ Nigel and Daveyton.
“You’re not recognised without a service certificate‚” said one United Democratic Front (UDF) veteran.
The SDUs were formed in largely ANC and UDF strongholds to protect township residents and ensure law and order.
The veteran said he was part of uMkhonto weSizwe’s internal unit and fought in the deadly battles between township residents and hostel dwellers and apartheid’s stability unit in the early 1990s.
MKMVA president and deputy military veterans minister Kebby Maphatsoe said he was unaware of the Ekurhuleni veterans’ presence in the Johannesburg CBD as the association’s officials had a meeting at Luthuli House.
Maphatsoe said it was agreed a long time ago that SDUs were part of uMkhonto weSizwe‚ having been trained internally in handling guns‚ grenades and engineering.
However‚ he said cannot allow an open door policy without verification.
Maphatsoe admitted that there could have been a common approach between his department and associations and that the process must be fast tracked.