On 9 May 2018, Judge Norman Davis handed down judgment in the Pretoria High Court in favour of the residents of Marievale who had been violently and unlawfully evicted from their homes by members of SANDF during November and December 2017. The court ordered that the evicted families must be restored to their homes within 30 days of granting the order, and where restoration was not possible, SANDF was ordered to make provision for adequate alternative accommodation. Military personnel from Marievale base were further interdicted from harassing, threatening or intimidating the residents.

On the same day judgment was handed down, the Department of Defence issued a statement that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans respects the decision of the court and would abide by it. However, more than three months after judgment and nearly a year after the evictions, the residents of Marievale remain displaced and continue to live in precarious conditions. Many of them moved into “Happiness Village” (an informal settlement near the Marievale base where they previously resided) and live in shacks. The trauma of losing their homes continues to haunt them and some of them still complain of being harassed and intimidated by military personnel from the base.

Shortly after judgment it transpired that all the homes formerly occupied by the evicted residents of Marievale were apparently allocated to members of SANDF. The SANDF then offered alternative accommodation to the residents in the form of two open space bungalows with no privacy or cooking facilities and with limited ablution facilities. The bungalows do not meet the constitutional standards of adequate alternative accommodation and are grossly unsuitable to accommodate the evicted families which include women, elderly persons and children.

Failure to implement the court order accordingly has now led to LHR launching an urgent application for contempt of court against the Minister of Defence, the SANDF and the Officer Commanding Marievale Base. The application is enrolled for hearing on Tuesday, 11 September 2018 at the Pretoria High Court.

“The Marievale Community has been resilient and patient in their pursuit for justice. They suffered a trauma they will never forget and lost a key member of their community, Willie Koekemoer. But they remain intent to undo the injustice done to them and bring finality to the matter. The wheels of justice will eventually turn,” said Thandeka Chauke (Candidate Attorney: Land and Housing Programme). 

For further details on the case, please contact:
Louise Du Plessis , Land and Housing Programme Manager on 012 320 2943 
Carol Mohlala, Media and Communications Manager on 079 238 9826