SANDF unlawfully evicted people. It is now trying to move them to tents

Marievale residents say they would rather stay in their shacks

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Photo of shacks
The South African National Defence Force has set up 36 tents to accommodate a number of families it unlawfully evicted from the Marievale army base. Photo: Kimberly Mutandiro

Residents of Happiness Village informal settlement are refusing to move into tents set up by South African National Defence Force (SANDF). They say they would rather remain in their shacks.

Happiness Village was formed by people forcefully evicted from the Marievale Military Base.

On 1 February, the Pretoria High Court ordered the SANDF to re-accommodate the residents as it had unlawfully evicted them from the military base in November and December 2017.

After the order of 1 February, the SANDF prepared bungalows and 36 tents to accommodate the evictees.

Twelve vulnerable families were identified to move into partitioned bungalows. On Wednesday, five families moved to the bungalows, another seven are to move on Thursday.

The remaining families were to move to tents located about 50 metres from Happiness Village. Next to the tents are six toilets and six communal kitchens.

A number of foreign nationals, who were also evicted, have been excluded from any accommodation.

Louise du Plessis of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said, “We must now decide if the tents are in compliance with the court order. We have to decide if we have a case to go back to court.”

Chris Koitsoei of Happiness Village said, “Tents are out of the question.”

The families say the tents will be very cold in winter. “There are snakes in this area. If they could enter into our shacks what more inside those tents? … They are open on top and underneath,” said Funeka Gamedze.

Gamedze will move into a bungalow with her husband and six children. “If l had a choice l would remain in my shack until we are allocated real houses. I will have to leave [behind] some of my furniture,” she said.

The SANDF intends to demolish the shacks after people move.

For Ziyanda Ncwazi, a mother of three, moving to the bungalow is a dream come true. After being forcefully evicted in 2017, she now moves back to the same bungalow. “I loved my home at the bungalows. Everyone knows that moving back is a dream come true for me. I had lived there for years. Today, I’m saying goodbye to using paraffin and matches. Life in Happiness Village was not easy,” said Ncwazi.

As she left Happiness Villages, her friends and neighbours ululated.

She is however worried about her ten goats. No animals are allowed on the base. She will have to find someone to watch over them.

TOPICS:  Housing

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