Press Statements

  • High Court takes a stand against lockdown brutality in favour of the Khosa family (16 May 2020). On Friday, 15 May 2020, the North Gauteng High Court handed down a judgement in an urgent application brought by the family of Mr Collins Khosa. The urgent application was brought following the death of Mr Khosa who succumbed to injures from an assault by members of the South African National Defence Force, accompanied by members of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police n 10 April 2020. SERI was admitted as amicus curiae in the matter. In reference to use of force by security forces during the lockdown, Judge Hans Fabricius held that “what we are dealing with in South Africa at this moment is the conduct of security forces aimed at mainly the most vulnerable because of the socio-economic situations that exist throughout South Africa for which the poor are certainly not to blame…”. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Inner city residents head to court to challenge the constitutionality of police raids (13 March 2020). On Monday, 16 March 2020, the residents of 11 buildings in inner-city Johannesburg will challenge the lawfulness and constitutionality of over 20 police raids of their homes conducted between 30 June 2017 and 3 May 2018. The raids were conducted in terms of section 13 (7) of the South African Police Services (SAPS) Act while two of the raids were conducted without any legal authority. The residents contend that section 13 (7) of the SAPS Act is unconstitutional in that it unjustifiably infringes the right to privacy, contained in section 14 of the South African Constitution. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Domestic Workers head to Constitutional Court on 10 March (9 March 2020). On 10 March 2020, the Constitutional Court will hear the Mahlangu v Minister of Labour matter. Applicants Sylvia Mahlangu, the surviving daughter of a domestic worker who drowned in her employers’ home in 2012, and the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU) successfully challenged the constitutionality of Section 1(xix)(v) of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 ("COIDA") at the North Gauteng High Court in 2019. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Justice for Marikana: Commemorating the 7th anniversary of the Marikana massacre (9 August 2019). Friday, 16 August 2019 will mark the 7th anniversary of the Marikana massacre. The mineworkers and their families have yet to see real justice. Only eight police officers, including Major General William Mpembe, in his capacity as former North West deputy police commissioner, have been charged for crimes related to the massacre. The eight have been charged for the deaths of three striking mineworkers and two police officers who were killed on 13 August 2012 and for failing to disclose a death in police custody and for lying to the Farlam Commission. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Gauteng MEC Lebogang Maile gets it wrong on Winnie Mandela (8 August 2019). SERI represents 133 residents of the Winnie Mandela informal settlement in their action to compel the delivery of RDP houses built with their subsidies, but fraudulently allocated to others over a decade ago. The residents have noted Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements Lebogang Maile’s remarks about their decision to sue the Ekurhuleni Municipality for constitutional damages after the municipality missed a court-ordered deadline to replace the residents’ stolen houses. Notably, the MEC was party to the court application in which that deadline was set. The MEC did not oppose the application and elected to abide by the decision of the court. >> Read the full statement here.
  • SERI to launch four research publications on informal settlements in South Africa (4 July 2019). The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) will launch four of its latest research publications on informal settlements in South Africa. The reports emanate from research entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency”. The three site-based research reports are on Ratanang informal settlement in Klerksdorp (City of Matlosana); Marikana informal settlement in Philippi (City of Cape Town); Siyanda informal settlement in KwaMashu (eThekwini Municipality), and a fourth Synthesis Report that pulls together findings in each of the themes (tenure security and land use management; political space; access to basic services and economic life) across the three sites. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Johannesburg's low-income residents are fighting for decent housing (30 November 2018). On 30 November 2018 SERI launched a new community practice note, which documents the struggle of the Inner City Federation (ICF), a self-organising coalition of tenants and unlawful occupiers from over 40 buildings in inner-city Johannesburg that advocates for better housing and basic services and challenges the stigma associated with low-income residents. The note examines the struggles of poor inner-city residents to resist evictions, harassment and displacement; establish and maintain effective self-management structures in dilapidated buildings; collectively mobilise; and advocate for decent, affordable housing. >>Read the full statement here.
  • South African civil society submits parallel report on the realisation of socio-economic rights to UN Treaty Body (13 September 2018). South Africa ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in January 2015. As required by the ICESCR, the South African government submitted its initial report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in April 2017. A coalition of civil society organisations called “South Africa’s Ratification Campaign of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and its Optional Protocol” (the Campaign) submitted a parallel report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the international treaty body responsible for monitoring the implementation socio-economic rights by states. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Never Forget: Commemorating the Marikana Massacre (13 August 2018). It has been a full six years since the Marikana massacre took place. Most of the recommendations that came out of the Farlam Commission have still to be acted upon. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) recommended almost two years ago that 71 police officers be charged. To date, only a few police are facing charges relating to the incident that began on the railway tracks on 13 August 2012. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Response to media reports on offers of compensation for slain Marikana miners' families (20 July 2018). SERI is aware of a media report that alleges that the families of the miners killed during the Marikana massacre have been offered R100 million in compensation. SERI is currently taking instructions from the families on various offers of compensation that have been made by the State via the State Attorney. None of those offers, whether individually or collectively, amount to anything close to R100 million.  >>Read the full statement here.

 

For a full archive of all SERI press statements from 2010 to June 2018, see here.

 

Op-eds

 

Submissions

  • Submission of recommended amendments to the COVID-19 regulations and directions (29 April 2020). In accordance with the announcement on 25 April 2020 by Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, informal waste recyclers will be permitted to operate at 50% capacity under level 4 of the lockdown as of 1 May 2020. SERI welcomes the inclusion of informal waste reclaimers. On 23 April 2020, SERI submitted recommendations to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on the COVID-19 regulations and directions to allow informal waste reclaimers to operate during the lockdown. The submission was also sent to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Minister of Environmental Forestry and Fisheries. >> Read SERI’s submission here.
  • Submission for a reassessment of de-densification in informal settlements in the context of COVID-19 (18 April 2020). On 11 April 2020, a group of civil society organisations made a submission to the Department of Human Settlements (NDHS) on its proposed strategy to de-densify informal settlements in response to COVID-19. The submission argues that de-densification should not be the central thrust of a human settlements response to informal settlements. It calls for a wide-scale emergency response to provide water, sanitation, hygiene and food relief to all informal settlement residents. >> Read SERI’s submission here.
  • Submission of comments on the City of Johannesburg’s Draft Temporary Emergency Accommodation Provision Policy, November 2019. On 18 October 2019, the City of Johannesburg invited interested parties to comment on three draft policies that aim to address the growing need for housing in and around Johannesburg, particularly in circumstances that may lead to homelessness. The policies are the housing allocation policy, serviced sites policy, and the temporary emergency accommodation policy. According to the City, the three policies seek to: “to guide the department and provide clear processes in how the department proposes to allocate beneficiaries to RDP houses, how it proposes to implement the new directive of giving people serviced sites to build their own homes, and how to better deal with the very challenging aspect of providing temporary emergency accommodation to those in need.” In November 2019, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) submitted its comments on the City of Johannesburg’s Draft Policy on Temporary Emergency Accommodation in accordance with the invitation to submit written comments. SERI welcomes the City’s efforts to proactively plan for future housing needs. >> Read SERI’s submission here.
  • Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, November 2019. On 18 November 2019, SERI, in collaboration with members of the Steering Group of South Africa’s Ratification Campaign of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and its Optional Protocol (the Coalition), made a submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing. As noted in the call for submissions, the Special Rapporteur has documented the nature and extent of the global housing crisis in her thematic and country visit reports. To assist States and other stakeholders to respond to the housing crisis, she has published draft Guidelines outlining key elements that underpin the effective implementation of the right to housing. These Guidelines will also inform the Special Rapporteur’s final report to the Human Rights Council. The submission, endorsed by Black Sash; Development Action Group (DAG); Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape; People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHM-SA); the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS); Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR); Section27; the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI); Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII); Prof Jackie Dugard and Prof Lilian Chenwi from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, endorsed the draft Guidelines and noted that guidelines provide States with a framework to “address the challenges of informal settlements, homelessness, and insecure tenure”. >> Read SERI’s submission here.
  • Submission on draft Expropriation Bill, February 2019. On 21 December 2019, the Minister of Public Works published an invitation for interested parties to comment on the draft Expropriation Bill, 2019. SERI has considered the draft Bill and made a submission to the Minister in accordance with the public consultation process. The Expropriation Bill is a welcome affirmation of the state’s role in unlocking land for developmental and redistributive purposes. However, SERI considers that more could be done to ensure that the Bill is situated within a more thoroughly worked-out programme of urban land reform that has appropriate regard to the wealth of already existing regulatory instruments and opportunities to use expropriation to facilitate pro-poor land reform. SERI’s primary concerns relate to the exclusion of individuals from being able to initiate the expropriation process; limitations on the ability to expropriate state-owned land; the location of the draft Bill in relation to existing legislation; the expropriation of state-subsidised property for nil compensation; the limitations on the ability for citizens to monitor the implementation of the expropriation process; and the definition of “purely speculative purposes”.>> Read SERI’s submission here.

  • Submission on the draft Geneva Guidelines on Less-Lethal Weapons, September 2018. SERI made written comments on the draft Geneva Guidelines on Less-Lethal Weapons and related Equipment in Law Enforcement to the Geneva Academy and the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (University of Pretoria). These draft set of Guidelines relate to the lawful and responsible design, production, procurement, testing, training, transfer, and use of less-lethal weapons and related equipment. The purpose of these Guidelines is to provide guidance to states, law enforcement agencies, human rights bodies and mechanisms, private security companies, manufacturers, and individuals or agents of any bodies using force for law enforcement purposes, human rights defenders, and individuals seeking to assert their rights on the lawful and responsible design, production, procurement, testing, training, transfer, and use of less-lethal weapons and related equipment. This draft document aims to build upon, the United Nations (UN) Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. >>  Read the draft set of guidelines here and read SERI's submission here
  • Submission to Parliament on Land Expropriation, 2018. SERI made a submission to the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in Parliament, which has been tasked with reviewing section 25 of the Constitution (the property clause). The committee was established in response to a decision taken by Parliament in February to consider whether an amendment should be made to the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation. SERI’s submission considers expropriation as a policy tool for the implementation of land reform and highlights the potential that it has to assist the state in unlocking speculatively held or abandoned land. It further argues that expropriation can enable the state to acquire vacant land and buildings which could then be used for the provision of permanent housing. The submission further considers expropriation in relation to the Constitution and existing law and conclude that the state may, within existing laws, take a much more proactive approach to expropriation, by employing the existing instruments at its disposal to bring about meaningful land reform. Only once those efforts have been tested and found wanting will it be possible to consider whether constitutional and statutory amendments are necessary or desirable. >>Read SERI's submission here

  • Submission on City of Johannesburg's Draft Inclusionary Housing Incentives, Regulations and Mechanisms, 2018. SERI submitted written comments on the City of Johannesburg Draft Inclusionary Housing: Incentives, Regulations and Mechanisms, which makes it mandatory for any property development in the City that consists of ten or more dwelling units to include at least 20% inclusionary housing. SERI's submission welcomes the spirit of the draft policy, which clearly attempts to address the acute lack of rental housing that caters for poor and low-income households in the City in a manner that promotes spatial justice. However, the submission also raises a number of concerns with the policy. In particular, the policy fails to ensure that inclusionary housing units are made available to low-income households (households earning less than R3 200 a month); does not link the rental in inclusionary housing to household income; and lacks accountability or enforcement measures to ensure that property developers, social housing institutions and body corporates comply with the policy. >>Read the draft policy here and SERI's submission here.

  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg Draft Land Use Scheme, 2017. SERI submitted written comments on the City of Johannesburg Draft Land Use Scheme, which intends to give effect to section 24(1) of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA) by replacing the prevailing 16 town planning schemes with a single consolidated land use scheme. SERI's submission raises a number of concerns about the land use scheme, including that the scheme criminalises unauthorised land use, fails to give the users and occupiers of land sufficient standing, and fails to make progressive use of special zones and the incremental introduction of land use management to address the challenges posed by informal settlements. >>Read the draft land use scheme here and SERI's submission on the scheme here.
  • Submission on the Gauteng Land Invasion Management and Prevention Policy, 2017. SERI submitted written comments on the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements (the Department)'s Gauteng Land Invasion Management and Prevention Policy, which seeks to regulate unlawful occupation of land in the province. SERI's submission clarifies the law; argues that the policy is an inappropriate response to urbanisation and is likely to encourage evictions; questions the lack of clarity about “registration permits” and “site allocations” and the Department’s silence on the appropriateness of Anti-Land Invasion Units; and raises concerns about the policy's failure to prioritise proactive ways to address unlawful land occupation. >>Read the policy here and SERI's submission on the policy here.
  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg’s Special Process for the Relocation of Evictees, 5 October 2016. SERI submitted comments on the City of Johannesburg's draft Special Process for the Relocation of Evictees (SPRE). SPRE has been formulated as the City’s response to its constitutional obligation to provide temporary alternative accommodation to occupants who might be rendered homeless by an eviction. >>Read SERI's submission here
  • Submission on #StopTheSale, 9 June 2016. On 19 May 2016, the Western Cape Government published an invitation for interested parties to comment on its intention to sell two properties in Tafelberg to a private day school. SERI submitted comment to the Province. We argue that in the Tafelberg site the Western Cape Government has a unique opportunity to provide affordable, well-located rental housing.  Instead of using the property for this purpose, the Province has chosen to release this land into the private market, where social control over this publicly-held asset will be lost forever. >>Read SERI's submission here.
  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg's draft Spatial Development Framework, 29 March 2016. SERI submitted comments on the City of Johannesburg's draft Spatial Development Framework (SDF). The SDF is a city-wide spatial policy document identifying the main challenges and opportunities in the city, setting a spatial vision for the future city, and outlining a set of strategies that would lead to the realisation of that vision. SERI's submission focuses on three topics: Spatial Justice, Provision of Affordable Housing, and Informal Work. >>Read SERI's submission here and a summary of the submission here.

  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg’s Municipal Planning By-Law 2015, 1 March 2016. On 29 January 2016, the City of Johannesburg (the City) published an invitation to comment on its Municipal Planning By-Law, 2015. The By-Law is published pursuant to the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA). SPLUMA and the By-Law set out development principles which apply to all organs of state and other authorities responsible for the implementation of legislation regulating the use and development of land. >>Read SERI's full submission here.
  • Submission on the amendmentsto Rule 46 of the Uniform Rules of Court and Rule 43 of the Magistrates’ Court Rules, 29 January 2016. On 29 January 2016, SERI made a submission to the Rules Board for Courts of Law (the Rules Board) in response to an invitation for interested parties to comment on proposed amendments to Rule 46 of the Uniform Rules of Court and Rule 43 of the Magistrates’ Court Rules. These Rules regulate the sale in execution of immovable property in the higher courts and magistrates’ courts respectively. >>Read SERI's full submission here.

  • Submission to the Lwandle Ministerial Enquiry, 10 September 2014. On 10 September 2014, SERI made submissions before the Lwandle Ministerial Enquiry. The inquiry was established by the Minister of Human Settlements to investigate the circumstances under which the violent eviction of over 800 residents of the Lwandle community in Cape Town on 2 and 3 June 2014 took place. SERI's submission briefly summarises eviction law in South Africa, and examines three cases where the constitutional and legislative protections for unlawful occupiers were circumvented: Zulu, Fischer and Lwandle. it also looks at proactive ways that the state can address land occupation. >>Read SERI's full submission here. Read the final report by the Enquiry here.
  • Submission on the Budget Vote Speech of the Minister of Human Settlements, 28 July 2014. SERI has submitted written comments to the Budget Vote Speech of the Minister of Human Settlements in accordance with the Minister's call for debate on housing in the country. SERI welcomes various aspects of the speech, including the acknowledgement that the rate of delivery of state-subsidised housing has, problematically, been in decline and that there is no credible data against which municipalities can verify the allocation of state-subsidised housing. Issues of concern include the lack of any engagement with informal settlement upgrading and the problematic assumption that social housing could provide low-cost rental accommodation for the urban poor. SERI discusses these issues and states that it is willing to engage the Department of Human Settlements in relation thereto. >>Read the Minister's Budget Vote Speech here and SERI's submission here.
  • Submission on the proposed amendment of Rule 46 of the Uniform Rules of Court and Rule 43 of the Magistrates’ Court Rules, 28 February 2014. SERI has submitted written comments to the Rules Board for Courts of Law on the proposed amendment of the court rules regulating the sale in execution of a debtor’s home to satisfy a judgment debt. At present the Rules provide for sales in execution “without reserve”. The Rules Board proposes that courts should, in the exercise of their judicial oversight function, be able to set the reserve price at which a sale in execution of primary residential property should commence. SERI supports the proposed amendment provided that the setting of reserve prices is made mandatory and that reserve prices are linked to the value of the property in question. This would provide significant protection to poor debtors who are at risk of losing their accommodation and most valuable financial assets. >>Read the proposed amendments here and SERI's submission here.
  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg's Draft By-Laws on Problem Properties, 12 December 2013. SERI has submitted written comments to the City of Johannesburg on their Draft By-Laws on Problem Properties. SERI argues that there are a number of problematic aspects with the by-laws, including the following: they fail to take into consideration the Abahlali decision; they will encourage evictions and homelessness; they fail to provide for meaningful engagement; and they contain vague provisions, over-broad powers and unfettered discretion. >>Read SERI's submission on the draft by-laws here.
  • SERI submission on the Mpumalanga Eradication, Prevention and Control of Informal Settlements Bill, 4 December 2012. SERI has written a submission on the recently published Mpumalanga Eradication, Prevention and Control of Informal Settlements Bill, 2012. The submission is endorsed by a number of individuals and organisations, including Abahlali baseMjondolo, Batho Land and Shelter (BLS), Centre for Urban and Built Environment Studies (CUBES), Built Environment Support Group (BESG), Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Planact and Urban LandMark. >> Read the Bill here and the joint submission here.

  • SERI submission on the National Sanitation Policy, 2011. The National Sanitation Programme within the Department of Human Settlements (DHS), together with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), is revising the 2001 White Paper on Basic Household Sanitation. Read SERI's submissions on the draft National Sanitation Policy here.

  • SERI involved in SAHRC hate speech complaint hearing, 28 November 2011. SERI's Director of Litigation, Stuart Wilson has been appointed as an advisor to the South African Human Rights Commission's panel currently considering a range of complaints of hate speech against Julius Malema made by the Afrikanerbond. His submissions emphasise the need to consider harmful or offensive political speech in context, and to construe hate speech law narrowly in a manner which impinges as little as possible on freedom of expression. Read more here.

  • Submission on the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill, 2011 (SPLUMB). National government is in the process of creating national legislation on spatial planning and land use management in South Africa. This process has been stalled numerous times since the White Paper on Spatial Planning and Land Use Management was gazetted over ten years ago in 2001. See the proposed legislation here and SERI's submission here. Also of interest are submissions by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).

  • Submission on the Limpopo Prevention and Control of Informal Settlements Bill, 2011. A number of organisations and individuals have endorsed a submission on this proposed provincial legislation which was drafted by SERI. The submission inter alia describes how the Bill does not have sufficient regard to the decision of the Constitutional Court in Abahlali baseMjondolo v The Premier of KwaZulu Natal 2010 (2) BCLR 99 (CC), which was far from being a qualified endorsement of the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) Slums Act. Read the submission here. SERI has also endorsed a comment on the Bill from a policy perspective, written by Prof Marie Huchzermeyer. Read the comment here.

  • SERI endorses civil society request for extension to Zimbabwe Documentation Project, 9 December 2010. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) together with a number of civil society organisations, including SERI, have endorsed a letter of complaint to the Office of the Public Protector, requesting that the deadline for Zimbabwe Documentation Project be extended. The Department of Home Affairs has refused to extend the deadline for new applications to the Zimbabwe Documentation Project, despite a number of problems with the process. Read the LHR press release here and the letter to the Public Protector here.

  • SERI endorses Submission on the Social Assistance Amendment Bill, 2010. SERI has endorsed the Aids Law Project (ALP) Submission on the Social Assistance Amendment Bill, which raises some serious concerns around access to justice and the rule of law. The submission focuses on two of the proposed amendments, namely the insertion of the definition of 'disability' and the change in the appeal procedure following an adverse decision in respect of an application for a disability grant.  ALP and SERI are of the view that the definition, although intended to clarify who is eligible for a grant and who is not, is actually vague and will not assist decision-makers or applicants for grants and will compound confusion in the system.  The amendment to the appeal process essentially introduces a double appeal, which will likely lead to even greater delays in the finalisation of the disability grant application process and to an infringement of rights. Read the Submission and Annexure (16 April 2010), as well as a Supplementary Submission (28 April 2010).

  • SERI comments on the 2010/11 national budget. SERI was asked to comment on the 2010/11 Budget Speech by Minister Gordhan, choosing to focus on issues around meaningful engagement, industrial policy, informal trading, housing and basic services in its submission. Read the submission here.

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