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Sandu says Defence Minister “distorted facts” in her reply to Port Elizabeth eviction question

Sandu on housing evictionThe SA National Defence Union (Sandu) maintains the Defence and Military Veterans Minister “distorted the facts” and was “protecting thuggery under the guise of military authority” in her reply to a Parliamentary question regarding unlawful eviction from military housing in Port Elizabeth late last year.

The military trade union’s national secretary, Advocate Pikkie Greeff, said in a statement the response by Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to a question posed by opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow defence and military veterans minister, Kobus Marais, “reveals distortions of fact as well as acts of criminality by SANDF members”.

Marais was told by the Minister the soldiers doing the eviction of people apparently illegally occupying military housing in Port Elizabeth were acting on order issued by the Officer Commanding, SA Army Support Base, Eastern Cape and the soldiers were instructed to be armed “as per Army doctrine”.

Greeff said the furniture dump, apparently done outside the nelson Mandela Bay metro offices at the request of one of the people allegedly evicted, was pursuant to an eviction is untrue.

“The fact is the eviction in question was overturned for unlawfulness by the Eastern Cape High Court days later. By omitting this fact, the Minister is distorting the truth.

“Secondly, the Minister’s version that the evictee requested the furniture to be dumped at the municipal offices is a blatant misstatement of fact. The evictee never made such a request and the fact that the High Court ordered the return of the furniture to the evictee’s house bears this out.

“Thirdly, the Minister’s suggestion that the soldiers involved in the eviction were armed as per ‘Army doctrine’ is equally untruthful,” Greeff said pointing out there is no army doctrine governing evictions from army quarters and “certainly none which involves soldiers, armed or unarmed”.

Greeff further sates the Ministerial response “displays a shocking inability on her part to grasp the grave implication of state authority and in particular military authority, using armed intimidation against civilian society”.

“The Minister is, in fact, by her ill-advised response shamefully protecting thuggery under the guise of military authority.”

He has demanded the immediate suspension of the Officer Commanding, a Colonel Phakhati, pending finalisation of the police investigation.