Lawyers for Human Rights is pleased with the judgment handed down by Judge N Davis in the Pretoria High Court on 9 May 2018 concerning the unlawful eviction of the residents of Marievale by members of SANDF.

Late last year leading into the festive season, members of SANDF stormed in the homes of about 150 families residing in a small village known as Marievale and evicted them in the most aggressive manner in the absence of a court order. The residents have given detailed accounts of the intimidation, harassment and in some cases outright violence that they endured at the hands of the military during the illegal evictions. Members of the military went from door to door with armoured tanks and automatic rifles and forcefully removed the residents from their homes. The evictions left about 600 people, including women, elderly persons and children, displaced and destitute living in squalor.

While SANDF blatantly denied the allegations of misconduct and forceful eviction in the face of damning video and pictorial evidence, the court found that the eviction was indeed unlawful and unconstitutional. The court has ordered that the residents be restored to their homes within 30 days of the granting of the order, and where restoration is not feasible they must be given temporary adequate alternative accommodation. Further to this, the court has ordered that the military is restrained from harassing, threatening or intimidating the residents.

This is a second victory for the residents of Marievale as they were granted an interdict in the Johannesburg High Court late in 2017.

LHR acknowledges the attached statement issued by the Department of Defence on 9 May 2018 that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans respects the decision of the Pretoria High Court and will abide by it. However, LHR has also been informed that the state nonetheless intends to appeal this judgment.

“The residents of Marievale have finally been vindicated and it is gratifying that the court ruled in their favour. The illegal evictions were a manifestation of an arrogant abuse of power by the military and their persistent efforts to delay the restoration of the residents to their homes is unfortunate. We will continue to pursue justice for the residents,” said Thandeka Chauke.

For more information please contact Louise Du Plessis, Land and Housing Programme Manager on 012 320 2943 or Carol Mohlala, Media and Communications Manager on 079 238 9826