The eviction of people from the currently unused Marievale military base is part of ensuring the property and its facilities are adequately maintained with a view to implementation of milestone one of the Defence Review.
SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke, speaking at a briefing in Centurion today, intimated the eviction was in part brought on by the continuing financial pressure the South African military was under.
“If matters continue in this way it’s not going to be pretty – we are bleeding,” he said in an overall response to questions about SANDF operations and deployments.
The Marievale eviction was opposed by Lawyers for Human Rights and resulted in the North Gauteng High Court Court ruling those evicted had to be returned to base accommodation or be provided with an alternative. This has, at the time of publication, not happened and the defence force in is contempt of court.
Shoke acknowledged the contempt charge and said discussions around the issue were ongoing.
“I don’ know more than that at present. I am not a lawyer,” he said adding the SANDF was right in in removing “squatters and criminal elements” as “people should respect property, be it their own, or belonging to government or other people”.
“There were court orders; the court ruled in favour of those people to come back to the base. We don’t agree with the court order 100%, but we will respect it.”
Another indication of the dire situation the SANDF finds itself in financially comes from the current deployment of SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) professionals to North West.
“This deployment is fast reaching an end. We have done what we were asked to do and will be withdrawing shortly. Only the water and sanitation services provided by a small element of the SA Army will continue,” he said.
Asked what the situation is as regards payment for services rendered by military healthcare professionals Shoke said the military “would obviously like to be paid as we desperately need the money, but you all know about the B7 account”.
This is a government account which receives payment for services provided by the SANDF, be it internally or externally such as with the MONUSCO deployment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Once there it is very seldom that funds are released back to the defence force.
“We will do what we can,” he said.
“Notwithstanding the difficult conditions, we are determined to do our level best to achieve our mandate.”