Marievale alternative housing issue drags on


The Department of Defence and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) have until Monday to come up with “a constructive plan” as regards accommodation for people apparently illegally evicted from the Marievale military base in eastern Gauteng.

This follows a visit to the apparently disused base this week by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), some evictees and representatives of the SANDF, according to Louise du Plessis, land and housing programme manager at the human rights and constitutional watchdog NGO.

The site visit follows the SANDF being ruled in contempt of a North Gauteng High Court ruling late last month and was, according to Du Plessis “an attempt to offer alternative housing”.

She said the SANDF claimed the housing previously occupied by about 150 families was now occupied by military personnel.
“They offered us two bungalows to house what they said were the 73 applicants. We pointed out it was in fact 73 families totalling up to 500 people and they would not all be able to find reasonable shelter and privacy in the pair of dormitory-type bungalows.
“The site visit was disturbing in that while the base itself is poorly fenced there were armed guards at the entrance and any number of armed soldiers watching while we were there,” she said.

The visit to the Marievale base is seen as part of an indication to meet and discuss the issue but LHR is not going to let matters continue on the same path.
“We have given the SANDF until Monday to come up with a constructive plan. We will look at it and evaluate our options going forward,” she said.

The court hearing stems from last December when soldiers apparently stormed into housing occupied by about 400 families on the base. LHR said they were evicted “most violently in the absence of a court order”.