File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

PRETORIA - A legal representative from the Lawyers of Human Rights (LHR) who was representing ousted residents of the Marievale army base told the Pretoria High Court that Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and two of her officials should be held in contempt of court for failing to comply with a court order to allow the community back onto the army base.

Advocate Marie-Anne de Vos argued on Wednesday that the minister and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have demonstrated unwillingness to comply with the court.

The people were illegally evicted in November 2017, they were forced to move to a nearby makeshift shanty town which they still continue to live in.

In May, Judge Norman Davis ordered that pending the finalisation of whatever legal proceedings the SANDF may launch for the evictions of people from Marievale Military Base, they must be allowed to return to the base.

Although it was clear that the civilians were staying illegally on the base, he said the SANDF had to follow the law and the Constitution. They had to launch a proper eviction application if they wanted these families off the base.

The SANDF offered accommodation to 73 people and their dependants in a form of two open spaces bungalows with no privacy or cooking facilities and limited ablution facilities.

The bungalows were to be divided in the middle, women, girls and babies occupy one side while men and boys occupy the other side.

Advocate de Cos argued that these bungalows are not adequate - especially with regard to dignity and privacy.

She said that the attitude and actions of the Minister were grossly inadequate to satisfy compliance with the court order handed in May. 

"The bungalows are insufficient but that's their view of complying with court....If money was an issue, they should have met with the applicants to come up with an alternative solution." 

De Vos put it to the judge that a more feasible approach would have been to return the families to their homes as per the court order and use the bungalows as a temporary accommodation for the soldiers.

The matter continues. 

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African News Agency (ANA)