A Parliamentarian was told by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans last month soldiers are “not harassing anyone” at Marievale military base when asked why the national defence force was, among others, disregarding a court order regarding apparently illegal occupants.
Further information on the treatment of people who moved into apparently unused accommodation on the Gauteng East Rand base some years ago comes from the Army Reserve self-help initiative, Project Koba-Tlala.
The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) via its LinkedIn presence states the base, under command of chief co-ordinator Colonel Reah Mkhize, is a contributor to kick-starting an agricultural project in line with Koba-Tlala’s stated objectives. “The departments of Agriculture and Social Development (presumably provincial) with Ekurhuleni Metro entered an agreement with the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to be allocated land at Marievale military base to establish agricultural projects with the aim of eradicating poverty and assist in economic development through Project Koba-Tlala,” according to the social media posting.
Replying to EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) MP Rosina Komane last month, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said there were no plans to evict people without the necessary approval adding an eviction court process was underway.
“Community members will stay there (at Marievale) until the eviction process has been adjudicated and finalised.
“It is important to mention residents who left Happiness Village (the name given to the section of the base where people are reportedly living illegally) and/or military land did so freely. This was after Ekurhuleni Municipality intervened by, among others, asking community members who wanted to be relocated to Zamani. This was done to enable the local authority to know how many shacks and families have been moved and how many are to remain at Happiness Village/ military land. This approach is intended to help the municipality to better manage the situation, should eviction by SANDF of illegal occupants succeed,” the Minister’s edited response reads.
In yet another North Gauteng High Court hearing brought by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) acting on behalf of the Happiness Village community, continued intimidation by soldiers saw a judge order an immediate stop to it. IOL reported Judge Brenda Neukircher declared restrictions placed on residents’ movements, apparently by the base command, unlawful and a gate which kept residents isolated was ordered dismantled.