Marievale community back in court to stop the army’s unlawful evictions

Marievale residents will be back in court later this week after the High Court heard and heard an application to interdict evictions from a disused military base, just outside of Johannesburg.

On Monday afternoon, Judge Molahlehi extended an interdict against the evictions which are being carried out by the army on communities living on a disused South African National Defence Force (SANDF) military base in Marievale, near Springs in eastern Gauteng.  He said he would rule on the matter by the end of the week to either stop allow residents to return to their home or find alternative accommodation.

Marievale residents were evicted from their homes on the disused military base in November last year by the SANDF. Judge Daniel Berger granted an urgent interdict against the minister of defence and military veterans, SANDF, the SA Army, the officer commanding army support base Johannesburg, the officer commanding the Marievale Engineering Regiment and the officer commanding the Dunnottar military base.

Despite the interdict, the residents were still forcefully removed from their homes and terrorised in the informal settlements they moved into.

Residents gathered outside the court while the proceedings went on. Kholofelo Tshoma said to The Daily Vox that he was woken to the sounds of corrugated iron falling at 3am on Monday morning, and then saw 12 armoured army vehicles outside his house. “I saw them kick a door down and there was no one there. They dragged out the bed and threw it out. They took their big vehicle and pushed the house with it till it fell,” he said.

Ntombiyebongo Tshabalala, an organiser from Right2Know, who was also picketing outside court said people of Marievale are put into unplanned debt by finding alternate accommodation and are suffering as a result of being displaced. “When you evict someone you are supposed to give them alternate accommodation, even to date, the Marievale communities are still struggling to find places to stay,” she said.

The first applicant against the SANDF in this matter Willem Koekemoer, a resident of Marievale after court proceedings said he was still shaken and traumatised by the eviction. He did say he had faith in the constitution to bring them justice. “According to the constitution, we already won but it is a matter of proving it in court,” he said.

In spite of the army’s belligerence, many of the Marievale residents hope they can simply return home in peace.