Marievale Evictions: The SANDF Is Still Barring Residents From Their Homes

Marievale residents have yet again been barred from returning to their homes despite a court ruling by the High Court in Johannesburg stating they should be allowed to into the disused base, where many of them had lived for many years.

In November last year, soldiers illegally evicted around 600 people from the Marievale base. Since then, the SANDF has failed to comply with an urgent interdict granted to the residents by Judge Daniel Berger in December. In February this year, Judge Edwin Molahlehi instructed the state to leave the disused base and allow people to return to their homes – this has not yet happened.

Speaking to The Daily Vox, Louise Du Plessis of the Lawyers For Human Rights said the organisation will be assisting the community to bring an urgent application to return them to their homes. “It is a simple application and there are thousands of cases dealing with the issue that you cannot evict people without a court order,” she said.

She said this was “one of the worst cases” she was aware of and said “the fact that the South African Defence Force could abuse their power in this way is worrying”.

She said they will be in court in the next three weeks.

Chris Liebenberg who represented some of the Marievale residents said they filed a notice to oppose the state’s leave to appeal. “It is up to the judge now to convene a court session to hear the arguments of council,” he said.

Liebenberg said the leave to appeal by the state suspends the order pending the ruling of the judge on whether to grant to application or not despite the evictions being illegal. “They’re just playing for time and actually misusing the system to extend the period of time they frustrate the residents,” he said.

Chris Koitsioe, an evicted resident who now live in Happiness Village said when he attempted to return home after the judgement was made, he was barred from doing so by soldiers. However, they are keeping their hopes up. “We are not in any doubt that we will return home. It might be a month or longer but we will,” he said.

The SANDF was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing.

Featured image by Tumi Weyi