Thandi Modise
Thandi Modise.jpg
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
Assumed office
5 August 2021
PresidentCyril Ramaphosa
Preceded byNosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Personal details
Born (1959-12-25) December 25, 1959 (age 62)
NationalitySouth African
ResidenceSouth Africa

Thandi Ruth Modise is a South African politician and member of the African National Congress. She is South Africa's current Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

Modise was elected the Speaker of the National Assembly on 22 May 2019 until 5 August 2021.

Struggle Against Apartheid

She participated in the struggle against apartheid, starting with the 1976 student uprising. In 1976, she escaped into Botswana to join the ANC and was later transferred to Angola where she received military training. Having undergone military and political training, Ms Modise was the first woman to return to South Africa to organise the townships to fight against the apartheid regime. She was arrested in 1979, and received an eight-year jail sentence, which she served at Kroonstad Prison. She was released in 1988.[1][2]


While in Kroonstad Prison, Thandi Modise completed her matric and a BCom degree in Industrial Psychology and Economics.[2]


Modise was the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during the fifth democratic Parliament. Prior to that she served as Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence.

Modise is currently the Chancellor of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Thandi Modise was first elected to Parliament in 1994 and served as the chairperson of several parliamentary committees, such as, the Portfolio Committee on Defence, the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and the Ad Hoc Committee for ratification of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

She has also been a Speaker of the North West Provincial Legislature (from 2004 to 2009) and Premier of the North West (from 2010 to 2014).

Modise serves as a member of the ANC National Executive Committee. She also served as Deputy President and Acting President of the ANC Women’s League. She was also Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC from 2007 to 2012.

Modise also served as a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee, but has remained committed to the Huhudi community. She started the ANC Womens’ League (ANCWL) branch in Huhudi and is a founder member of the Lesedi Community Clinic. Thandi Modise served on the ANC National Executive from 1994 to 2012, and was Deputy President of the ANC Women's League from 1994 to 2004 and served as its President in 2004.[1][2]

Being Held Hostage

On 14 October 2021, Modise was one of three government officials held hostage by the Liberation Struggle War Veterans, which was established when the MK Military Veterans Association was disbanded as an ANC structure.

Thandi Modise was held hostage together with Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele and Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla at the St George's Hotel.

The ministers were rescued at 2am by the Special Task Force, which is headed by General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

Lwazi Mzobe denied the two ministers and deputy minister had been taken hostage, although the government and police labelled it a hostage event.[3]

After the rescue, Modis said that, although she and two other ministers were held hostage they did not feel their lives were in danger but they were "unhappy" at being held against their will. She said:

"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."



  1. 1.0 1.1 Ms Thandi Ruth Modise,, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: October 15, 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ms Thandi Ruth Modise,, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: October 15, 2021
  3. Military vets leader who took two ministers and a deputy minister hostage works for eThekwini Municipality, Daily Maverick, Published: October 15, 2021, Retrieved: October 15, 2021
  4. Jeanette Chabalala, Ministers held hostage: 'We did not feel that our lives were in danger' - Thandi Modise, News24, Published: October 15, 2021, Retrieved: October 15, 2021