The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has undertaken to provide the Marievale civilian community with potable water and not to intimidate them after their urgent court application for proper housing.
The community, which used to live in the houses on the Marievale miltary training base near Nigel, have been waging a lengthy legal war against the defence force after being booted out of the houses.
In May, the civilians, who were represented by Lawyers for Human Rights, obtained an urgent court order forcing the defence force to allow them to return to the houses or to provide them with proper alternative housing. The order also interdicted military staff from harassing or intimidating them.
Their urgent application for Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the chief of the army and the commander of the base to be jailed for contempt of court was last month struck off the High Court in Pretoria urgent roll.
The 600 people were forcefully removed from the houses without a court order in December last year, causing severe trauma.
The families moved into the houses years ago after the base was virtually abandoned, but they were violently thrown out after the defence force decided to start using the base again.
Most of them now live in squalor in a makeshift shanty town they cynically refer to as “Happiness Village”.
There are no sanitation facilities, electricity or running water despite the court order and some community members said they were still being harassed and intimidated by military staff.
All the homes at the base were apparently allocated to members of the SANDF shortly after the judgment and the SANDF then offered alternative accommodation to the families in the form of two open bungalows with no privacy or cooking facilities and with limited ablution facilities.
In terms of a settlement reached in the High Court in Pretoria yesterday, the defence force can only visit Happiness Village for lawful purposes.
The villagers undertook not to tamper with the water taps, which must be provided within the next four days.