Marievale residents reveal shocking brutality as SANDF evict them from homes

SANDF make their presence felt in Marievale

Marievale residents reveal shocking brutality as SANDF evict them from homes

It’s heartbreaking how these people have been treated

Marievale residents reveal shocking brutality as SANDF evict them from homes

SANDF make their presence felt in Marievale

SANDF have been accused of brutality and cruelty when removing residents of the Marievale settlement in Nigel, Ekurhuleni.

The settlement is based on an abandoned military base in Gauteng. The Johannesburg High Court have a court order in place that forbids any evictions, yet it would appear that the SANDF are going above and beyond the law.

Jana Easterbrook is a a nearby resident, who is very active in the community and knows many of the Marievale occupants. She shared with us the shocking stories – and army brutality witnessed first hand – that’s turned the place into a war zone.

She describes turning up to the settlement with supplies ready to help out the community, after reading about their plight in a local paper. A family of 11, the Van den Bergs, told her about their ordeal.

Marievale residents left traumatised

“The SANDF (South African National Defence Force) had arrived at their front door and told them to take their stuff and get out immediately. Not quite understanding what was happening and why they had to leave, their questions were met with force.”

“SANDF members retaliated by hitting a mentally challenged family member against the head with a gun, while others took brute force to break the door down removing what little protection the family had against intruders.”

Military vehicles patrol the area (Supplied)

This isn’t the only claim of military brutality, either. Mr & Mrs Nicolette & Gert Van Schalkwyk have made a statement on the army’s extraordinary behaviour. They allege that force was used against their neighbours, and that they were pushed to extreme limits by over-zealous soldiers.

SANDF accused of brutality

We saw many people assaulted and arrested by SANDF police members. A male SANDF member instructed two female members with him to search through my stuff. I was told to take a box down from the top of a cupboard and was not able to as I had just come out of hospital following a miscarriage.

The female SANDF member told him that I was unable too, he responded by threatening to shoot me if I didn’t. After setting the box down, I sank to the ground on my knees riddled in paid, a burn spreading through my abdomen. The male SANDF member again spoke; ‘get up or we will shoot you’. We were also told to ‘Fu** off or die’.

Residents have had their possessions forcefully removed from their home

Marievale residents also reported that the soldiers who had descended onto the disused base were acting like hooligans. Easterbrook, who has been making regular visits to the area, relayed the story from a family who wanted to keep their anonymity.

Soldiers said to ‘drink on the job’

“On Friday night the SANDF members could be heard having a party. Residents told me how drunk they were. Music was blaring loudly. Residents told me on Saturday during another food run how they had let off what sounded like ‘bombs’ during the night terrifying the animals & people still there even more.”

The residents of Marievale are poor. They live in houses that are derelict with holes from missing bricks & no glass in the window panes. Most have no running water, or electricity. Their possessions are donated broken furniture which they have tried to fix.

Most of these people are unemployed, or earn minimum wage or pensions or grants. But it’s not enough to survive. Due to not having transport employment is a problem. They use the little income they earn to buy food, and petrol for their generators.

There are children, elderly & mentally challenged people living here & now they have been forced out literally into the veld with no assistance from the SANDF, or any welfare organisations.

We were able to get comment from DA Ward councillor Wollaston Labuschagne, who told us that the actions of the SANDF were ‘a travesty’. According to Labuschangne, local government are unable to intervene, as the directive to evict these residents has come from a national governing body:

Local government working with hands tied

“What makes this instance so frustrating to me personally is that it mainly involves national departments therefor as a municipal councillor I do not have communication channels with Defense structures.”

“It is my strong believe that what happened at Marievale during the past two weeks was an absolute travesty and gross human rights violation. I will request my parliamentarian counterparts to provide some guidance and future involvement.”

Children of the settlement receive food donations (Supplied)

Jana Easterbrook stressed to us that race, age or disability had no bearings on the military’s heavy-handed response. Before we finished speaking, she made it clear that she wanted to thank everyone who helped supply food, shelter and clothing for shell-shocked Marievale residents.

“Candice & her Amazing Gran, Emma Pietriusti, Amanda Momberg, Chanel Stander, Barbra Bates Jansen, Chris Easterbrook, Heinrich Devenier, Julian Devenier, Logan Gunter, Kirsty Sharp, Vicky, Tannie Hannetjie, Michelle, Magda, GP, Donovan, Nigel SPCA for offering assistance to Marivale residents for their animals, And every other single person that helped in person, in prayer or by donation. You guys are amazing!”

It would seem that the Marievale evictions won’t face a proper inquiry until Parliament returns from recess in 2018. A whole community now faces homelessness, uncertainty, and dependency on the kindess of strangers. Thankfully, people like Jana and her team of ‘silent angels’ have provided a light at the end of the tunnel.

Also read: Families evicted at Cape Town’s biggest social complex