Rhodes University expels two student activists for life over April 2016 protests (12 December 2017). SERI represents Yolanda Dyantyi, a student activist, matters concerning her participation in anti-rape protests on the Rhodes University campus during April 2016. In March 2017, months after the protests, the university instituted disciplinary proceedings against Ms. Dyantyi. Ms. Dyantyi was convicted in her absence, and permanently excluded from the university. All of her most recent examinations were invalidated. As far as SERI has been able to ascertain, this is the harshest penalty the niversity has imposed for ten years for any offence whatsoever, including rape and sexual violence on campus. >>Read the full statement here.
City housing rules “cruel, condescending and degrading” says Constitutional Court (1 December 2017). The Constitutional Court has said that the City of Johannesburg committed a “monumental irregularity” in breaching the rights of 11 poor people to whom it provided temporary accommodation after they were evicted 5 years ago. However, when they got to the shelter, the residents were split up from their families into men’s and women’s dormitories – even if they were married or had children of the opposite sex. They were also locked out of the shelter during the day under the shelter rules. The Court struck the rules down and interdicted the City from applying them to the residents for the rest of their stay at the shelter. >>Read the full statement here.
SERI launches two research publications on student protests (31 August 2017). On Tuesday, 31 October 2017, SERI launches its two latest research publications on student protest entitled A Double Harm: Police Misuse of Force and Barriers to Necessary Health Services (October 2017) and Student Protests: A Legal and Practical Guide (September 2017). These resources document the misuse of force by police during student protests at the University of theWitwatersrand in October 2016. They also provide information about rights and obligations of those involved in student protests, including students, university administrators, the police and private security. >>Read the full press statement here.
High Court orders the City of Cape Town to purchase or expropriate land in ground-breaking judgment (31 August 2017). The Western Cape High Court has dismissed an application to evict 60 000 people living in the “Marikana” informal settlement in Philippi near Cape Town finding that this was not a reasonable or constitutional option available to the state. Instead, the court found that the only reasonable option was for the state to purchase or expropriation the Marikana land to avoid making the Marikana residents homeless. The court directed the City to initiate this process by entering into good faith negotiations to purchase the Marikana land, and expropriating the land in the event that purchase negotiations failed. >>Read the full press statement here.
City of Johannesburg dumps Fattis Mansions residents in a field at gun point (21 July 2017). The City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) has moved the residents of Fattis Mansions to a field to the south of the inner city, at gun point. Despite being ordered to provide alternative accommodation by the High Court on 19 July 2017, the City has still not provided any shelter to the residents, many of whom own their units in Fattis Mansions. The residents and their furniture have been dumped in a field outside the Wemmer building, which houses City-run rental accommodation. The Wemmer building is full, however, and is not able to accommodate any of the residents. The residents are sitting on the ground with their furniture. >>Read the full press statement here.
City of Johannesburg leaves 257 men, women and children out in the cold despite court orders (20 July 2017). The High Court has ordered the City of Johannesburg to accommodate 257 men, women and children who were evicted yesterday from Fattis Mansions at 66 Harrison Street, Johannesburg. The residents of the property approached the court on an urgent basis last night at 7pm, to obtain an order allowing them to return to the building. Justice van der Linde ordered the City to accommodate the residents overnight while he considered his judgment. However the City failed to comply, forcing residents to spent the night out in the cold. This morning Justice van der Linde refused to restore the residents to the building, on the basis that the property is not safe for occupation, and directed the City to provide the residents with emergency accommodation immediately. By 3pm the City had not complied with either of these orders. >>Read the full press statement here.
SERI launches new guide on relocations to alternative accommodation (17 July 2017). On 20 July 2017 SERI launched a new resource guide, Relocating to Alternative Accommodation: Legal and Practical Guidelines. Relocations have the potential to severely disrupt peoples’ lives and negatively impact their livelihoods, community relations and sense of security. To make sure this doesn’t happen, the relocation process should be carefully planned, well-run and participatory. SERI developed these guidelines to assist those involved in the planning for and carrying out relocations to alternative accommodation, including legal practitioners and government officials dealing with housing. The guidelines offer practical guidance on how to ensure that relocations are carried out in a way that respects the constitutional rights of the people being relocated. >>Read the full media alert here.
Cape York Fire (6 July 2017). On 05 July 2017, the Cape York building in Johannesburg caught fire again, killing 7 people and injuring 7 others. Fires in Inner City buildings and settlements without water, sanitation and electricity are not uncommon, and this is not the first fire in the Cape York building. The City of Johannesburg has failed to provide meaningful solutions to help poor people who are inadequately housed in the Inner City. Life threatening conditions in unmanaged, unregulated and un-serviced Inner City buildings must be addressed. Owners of these buildings must be brought to book by the City. Residents seeking basic services can no longer be turned away by the City because they are not property owners. >>Read the full press statement here.
Constitutional Court issues ground-breaking housing judgment (8 June 2017). The Constitutional Court held that evictions that lead to homelessness are unlawful, even if they are agreed to by all of the residents who stand to be evicted. Judges must make sure that people under threat of eviction are properly informed of their rights to contest eviction proceedings and claim alternative accommodation. In addition, judges must investigate the circumstances of all residents in order to assess the impact that an eviction will have on them. >>Read the full press statement here.
For a full archive of all SERI press statements from 2010 to 2016 see here.