More details surrounding the dramatic scenes that unfolded in the Durban CBD on Thursday afternoon have emerged, with police confirming that an armed man who entered a government building was a disgruntled pension beneficiary who demanded money before taking staff members hostage.
The man was arrested after multiple law enforcement agencies arrived on the scene and closed down Anton Membede street in the Durban CBD. SAPS members entered the building – which houses a Government Employees Pension Fund office – and were able to successfully arrest the man.
SAPS confirm arrest after Durban hostage situation
South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said in a statement on Thursday evening that the situation has now been resolved, and said that contrary to earlier reports, the man was not armed with an explosive device.
“There was a hostage situation along Anton Lembede Street in Durban at around 14:30, where a male went to a government building and held hostage an employee. Police were called to the scene and the situation was defused. The suspect has been taken into custody,” she said.
She said that the suspect was visibly armed with a firearm, but said that the gun was at no stage drawn out. “Only verbal threats were made while a firearm on his body was clearly visible,” said Mbele.
“The situation was diffused by Task force members and hostage negotiators,” she said, adding that no shooting took place, with no injuries reported.
Suspect demanded pension payment
Information began emerging from reporters at the scene that the man responsible for the tense hostage situation was a former government employee who was disgruntled after the state failed to disburse his pension payments. Mbele confirmed that the man who entered the GEPF office was indeed demanding money from the staff on duty.
“Today at midday, a retired member (African male) of a security force came into the GEPF offices and demanded payment of his pension,” she said. “He posed a threat to a pension manager.”