• Court finds Marikana housing activist Napoleon Webster not guilty (22 May 2018). On 22 May 2018, the North West High Court discharged Marikana housing and land rights activist, Napoleon Webster. The court discharged Webster and found him not guilty after the prosecution failed to produce any evidence that linked Webster to the death of a local ward councillor. Prosecutors ultimately conceded that Webster was entitled to an acquittal, and accepted that the State had failed to “establish [Webster’s] involvement” in the murder. >> Read the full statement here
  • Correcting false statements by Herman Mashaba (10 April 2018). SERI is aware of the statements made by Herman Mashaba and Tony Turison, of the City of Johannesburg, to the effect that SERI has “obstructed” its efforts to address the needs of occupiers of bad buildings. These allegations are false. There is not a single instance in which the City has provided alternative accommodation, unless SERI or another public interest NGO, has gone to court to force the City to make the accommodation available. Approximately 1000 residents of unsafe buildings have been rehoused in this way since 2008. Far from obstructing the City, “so-called” human rights lawyers, and our clients, are the only reason the City ever does anything for poor people living in unsafe buildings in Johannesburg’s inner-city. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Occupants of collapsed building had been waiting for emergency housing for 8 months (9 April 2018). The families liging in an abandoned building at 39 to 41 Davies Street in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, which partially collapsed on 9 April 2018, killing three children, had been asking the City of Johannesburg for safe emergency accommodation for eight months. In July 2017, City official produced a report for Mayor Herman Mashaba strongly recommending that the occupiers be provided alternative accommodation. Yet, the City took no steps to provide the occupiers with a safe alternative. >>Read the full statement here.

  • Families of Marikana miners urge Ramaphosa to turn his promises on Marikana into action (22 February 2018). During his reply to the state of the nation address debate in Parliament on Tuesday, 20 February, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the state was committed to compensating the families of the striking miners who were killed by police on 13 and 16 August 2012 during the Marikana massacre. In August 2012, these workers, with thousands of others, were on strike demanding a living wage when they were killed after police opened fire on them. SERI welcomes Ramaphosa’s comments and hopes that his promises will lead to action on the part of the state. >>Read the full statement here.

  • Civil society proposes alternative, people-centred budget (20 February 2018). Ahead of Minister Malusi Gigaba's budget speech on 21 February 2018, a broad collective of socio-economic rights organisations have developed an example of what South Africa's national budget could look like if it takes the needs and concerns fo ordinary South Africans seriously. The human rights budget draws on existing trends in budgeting and makes strong recommendations about where funds should be allocated to give effect to fundamental human rights enshrined in the South African Constitution. SERI contributed to the human rights budget. >>Read the full statement here.

  • Court orders Ekurhuleni Municipality to correct housing corruption (15 December 2017). The North Gauteng High Court ordered the Ekuhuleni Municipality to build 133 houses for the residents of the Winnie Mandela informal settlement near Tembisa. Judge Mmonoa Teffo found that Ekurhuleni had failed to provide the residents with houses that were constructed with their government-approved housing subsidies. The houses were instead occupied by other, unknown people, often as a result of corruption in the housing allocation process, which Ekurhuleni controls. This breached the residents’ constitutional and statutory housing rights. >>Read the full press statement here.

  • 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 2017 see here.