Legal Update

For all concerns and queries please feel free to contact Angela

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23 September 2008


Our lawyer, Adriaan Vorster, was {yesterday-11 September 2008} successful in his urgent application in the Transvaal Supreme Court to oppose the Pomfret relocation process.


However, early this morning [12 September 2008] Col Madikane arrived at Pomfret to, despite the abovementioned court verdict prohibiting the relocation, continue with the relocation of the Pomfret community. 


Adriaan Vorster immediately hereon launched another court application and again was successful in attaining a verdict prohibiting the relocation.


At this junction, the trucks relocating the Pomfret community members and belongings were ready to depart Pomfret for Mafeking and the SAPS given the additional court verdict instructed Col Madekane to cease the relocation, which was adhered to. 


The reporting member was throughout in contact with all involved, in Pretoria and personally thanked Adriaan on behalf of the VA and members. It is to be noted that Adriaan has passionately presented and argued at times a very contentious case.


Further, the support given to the community in Pomfret, by specifically Mrs. Susan Bonnet and Juan van Tonder is to say the least highly commendable. They have [over the years] supported the community with devotion and tireless enthusiasm--at times been challenged to the extreme.


11 September 2008


1. Col. Madekane, 13 SAPS vehicles on the way to Pomfret, SABC 2, Removal teams, teams to disconnect electricity, are now at Pomfret to proceed with the removal of the Pomfret community. 

2. Confidential info received---"Government brief the departments to force the people out as quickly as possible so that by the time of the court hearing no one will be in Pomfret.  

3. Further, to the above the " SAPS have instructions to be more aggressive".

21 August 2008

Summary of Legal Action

High Court Applications 

The government’s attempts so far to evict the residents of Pomfret have been illegal and unconstitutional. As early as 2002, the MEC for housing and local government, Phenyu Vilakazi, and General Bobo Moerani of the SANDF paid frequent visits to Pomfret with large police contingents, and later, with the SANDF itself. The sole purpose of these visits was to threaten the community with police and military action should they not cooperate. Nonetheless, no official proceedings, i.e. according to correct administrative procedures or law, were initiated on the part of the Government. These actions were followed by the termination of the police and medical services and the cessation of most maintenance work on infrastructure in Pomfret in 2005. Ongoing threats and intimidation from various government officials have been accompanied by media statements declaring that the community is a security threat and that its members opposed the “liberation struggle”, implying that retribution for the past is somehow appropriate: 

Members of the Pomfret community are either veterans of the 32 Battalion or descendents of members of this unit of the former South African Defence Force. Its main role was to counter the activities of the liberation movements and armies. http://nwpg.gov.za/dlgh/May%202006.htm 

…let me also assure you that part of the people that causes problems beyond the borders of South Africa can be traced in that community.  So that community remaining as it is, continues to be an embarrassment even in the new democracy, it continued to be a problem in the past again black communities, it  continues to be a problem now as currently constituted. (MEC Vilakazi, parliamentary transcript) 

Allegations that there is asbestos contamination have been unsubstantiated by any systematic and scientific assessment of the situation. In any case, Government policy is to rehabilitate, and not evacuate, when there is asbestos danger and the Department of Mines and Energy has committed funding to this end.  

The trend of harassment and intimidation peaked with the March 2008 siege, wherein police with armored vehicles backed up demolition teams who destroyed a number of houses in Pomfret, some of which were occupied. Shots were fired by police at this time and community assets were ransacked, including the crèche. The community succeeded in obtaining a High Court interdict to stop this action, which was followed by a second application seeking to protect and restore their human and Constitutional rights, as enshrined in international instruments to which South Africa is party. These rights include: 

The second High Court application, submitted 22 April, 2008, outlines the recent history of government intimidation and states the factors that militate against relocation (in addition to respecting the rights of the residents), including the uniqueness and cohesion of the community, the presence of schools and community-based organizations, including churches, and the current shortage of housing in South Africa. It requests the restoration of services and repair of infrastructure, according to what the National Department of Public Works committed to in February of 2007. This rehabilitation plan was blocked by the Provincial Government on no specific grounds. 

The Government’s Response 

The Government responded on July 28th, 2008, stating the rationale for evicting the community, which follows: 

The government also alleges that the houses that were demolished under police supervision in March 2008 were vandalized by residents, and that residents ransacked the crèche themselves. Video footage taken by residents at this time is contradictory.

The government states that residents are “anxious to be integrated within the South Africa community as citizens of this country”, which implies that their citizenship as Pomfret residents is somehow questionable. This is consistent with other xenophobic public statements made by Government officials, including: 

Conclusion and Way Forward 

The Government denies all allegations of rights violations and unlawfulness on its part in the Pomfret community’s application. The community now needs to proceed with challenging the response. This will include: 

Efforts are underway to identify professionals to carry out these tasks at minimal cost. There are people within our community with the necessary skills and experience, but they may need some support in terms of travel and communication costs while carrying out the work.

Much progress has been made in this case so far, thanks to the support of the 32 Bn VA and other supporting institutions ( the Legal Aid Society/Lawyers for Human Rights) and individuals. Without this support, it would not have been possible to bring this matter into the public sphere, and the State would have been permitted once again to act with impunity.  More support is needed, however. The battle is only just beginning, and the community and its legal representation must not be abandoned in mid-engagement, now that hopes have been raised and many people have sacrificed time, money and energy.

Our attorney, Adrian Vorster, is personally involved with the community and has gone beyond the call of duty in addressing not only the veterans, but the youth, church leaders and teachers in an effort to raise morale. He has undertaken several trips to Pomfret at his own expense, running the gauntlet of police harassment along the road, to personally confront and stop illegal actions by the Government as they are being perpetrated.

Pomfret is a prominent and visible reminder of the legacy of the SADF and of 32 Bn, even though only about 5% of the community members are veterans. If the community is not supported and the Government succeeds in its unlawful action, it will establish a dangerous precedent of state-sponsored xenophobia  and collective punishment of minority communities for their historical affiliations. 


For all concerns and queries please feel free to contact Angela

Contact Angela

All material published on this page is the view and comments of the specific writer and is not the Official View or Comment of the 32 Battalion Veterans Association nor that of the  Pomfret Community who risk further victimisation


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