The SANDF has launched an “urgent internal investigation” after 30 armed soldiers occupied a square in front of Port Elizabeth’s City Hall on Friday.
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The occupation followed evictions from three houses at the Forest Hill army base. The occupants were said to be in the homes in violation of military rules.
SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said the evictions were carried out by 15 members of the Army Support Base (ASB) Eastern Cape.
“The incidents that followed the evictions of the three identified houses have been brought to the attention of the senior authorities‚” said Mabanga.
“An urgent internal investigation has been launched and will run concurrently with the SAPS investigation to determine the sequence of events and the role(s) of all parties involved.
“The SANDF regrets the unfortunate events that unfolded this afternoon and will co-operate fully with the SAPS investigations into the matter.”
Earlier‚ Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip slammed the “illegal and armed SANDF occupation of City Hall square” when five military vehicles dumped couches‚ laundry baskets‚ a fridge and toys there after the evictions.
Chief whip Werner Senekal said in a statement that 30 “armed‚ aggressive and confrontational” soldiers illegally occupied Vuyisile Mini Square in front of City Hall and dumped the furniture. They told him the evictions were illegal.
Trollip described the action as an “undemocratic act of hooliganism”‚ adding: “Worse still‚ many soldiers were armed with assault rifles‚ fingers poised on triggers‚ loaded with full magazines. Upon departure‚ the soldiers proceeded to ram into and cause damage to a municipal vehicle and a small child was also pushed out the way by a senior soldier.”
Senekal said the group’s leader indicated they had received an instruction “from Pretoria” to occupy the square. He added that Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had denied any knowledge of this situation.
Senekal said the municipality was seeking an urgent court interdict against the SANDF because soldiers said they would return with more furniture. They would also instruct lawyers to get an order against the SANDF to remove the furniture left behind at the City Hall.
A criminal case for malicious damage to property‚ illegal dumping‚ intimidation and trespassing would also be opened.
– TMG Digital/The Herald