SANDF gets approval to evict Marievale residents


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been given permission by the North Gauteng High Court to evict residents illegally occupying its Marievale land, after years of legal wrangling.

In late 2017, around 400 people who had moved into the disused Marievale base were evicted, but many relocated a couple of hundred metres away from the SANDF property, creating the Happiness Village informal settlement.

A year later the Pretoria High Court ordered the SA National Defence Force to re-accommodate them as the eviction was unlawful. The SANDF appealed the decision but lost. For years, the SANDF has been attempting to remove the residents.

In September 2021 the residents of Happiness Village were served with a final eviction order, subject to being provided with a relocation plan. In December 2022, the municipality submitted its relocation plan to Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), which has represented the families in various court battles. Many residents refused to move until guaranteed new housing.

The SANDF on Friday said the eviction process will be completed by 30 June 2024. “The High Court ruled that the military must assist with the movement of these people to a place identified by the City of Ekurhuleni,” a statement attributed to Department of Defence Head of Communication Siphiwe Dlamini read.

“In the past, the SA Army has assisted the City of Ekurhuleni with similar movements when other residents in the area voluntarily vacated the land thereof. The residents who are to be evicted are those who had refused to voluntarily vacate the Military Land between the year 2019 and 2020,” the statement read.

Marievale has not been in use as a military base or facility for over a decade.