Protesting military veterans at the high court to oppose an interdict prohibiting them from sleeping at the premises of a Department of Defence building in Hatfield. Picture: James Mahlokwane

JAMES MAHLOKWANE

Scores of military veterans who have been sleeping at the premises of a Department of Military Veterans building in Hatfield to demonstrate their demand for benefits appeared at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to face an interdict to prohibit their sleep out protest. 

The army veterans said they were merely demanding benefits which were due to them as stipulated by a Defence Act of 2011 but the South African National Defence Force failed to meet them half way. 

The soldiers said they had been submitting memorandums to the Department of Military Veterans since 2016 making the same demands but their plights continued to be ignored. 

They said they decided to sleep outside the army building from February 5 to showcase their dedication to achieve their demands. 

The large group said they wanted benefits such as healthcare, funeral cover, houses, educational skills training and support, to mention a few. They said they wanted the benefits to extent to their families who were dependent on them because that would show that the military did not take its veterans for granted.

Protesting military veterans at the high court to oppose an interdict prohibiting them from sleeping at the premises of a Department of Defence building in Hatfield. Video: James Mahlokwane


Chairperaon of Revolutionary Military Veterans Pat Maroka said: "We have brought our legal representative with us to the high court to convince the court to postpone this interdict because we have a meeting with Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula later today. 

"If the court grants the Department of Military Veterans this interdict, matters can only get worse because we are determined to continue demonstrating. The department is embarrassed by us sleeping outside its premises in Hatfield and that's why they want the court to get rid of us. We don't understand why the department does not want to meet our demands. We are not asking for ridiculous things,"

The crowd could not all enter the courtroom and decided that some veterans will wait outside court and find out the outcome from Advocate Andres Mgome after proceedings. 

"We will continue to fight for what is ours. We will not give up and the Department of Military Veterans should not think this will get rid of us," said the veterans.