• 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.
  • 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.
  • Winnie Mandela residents challenge housing fraud in Tembisa (22 May 2017). One hundred and thirty-three residents of the Winnie Mandela informal settlement challenged the Ekurhuleni Municipality’s failure to given them possession of housing constructed with their subsidies.The residents live in shacks at the Winnie Mandela informal settlement in Tembisa. Each of the applicants had applied for, and been allocated, a state-subsidised house in the adjacent Winnie Mandela Park township. Each of the residents’ subsidies was then used to develop a specific stand on a specific site in Winnie Mandela Park. But these stands were not given to the residents. They were occupied by other people. >>Read the full media alert here.
  • Inner city residents victorious in resisting eviction (19 May 2017). The Johannesburg High Court today set aside an eviction order granted against 84 men, women and children living at 8 O’Reilly Street, Hillbrow in Johannesburg’s inner city. The Court held that the eviction order should not have been made without the City of Johannesburg (“the City”) being part of the proceedings. The City is obliged to ensure that the eviction of the community would not result in homelessness. >>Read the full press statement here
  • Launch of new video emphasises lack of justice for Marikana (20 March 2017). At 9h30 on Human Rights Day, 21 March 2017, families of the mineworkers killed at Marikana, mineworkers and members of the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF), with the support of the Marikana Support Campaign, gathered in Slovo Park to commemorate the Sharpeville and Marikana massacres. The event will included the launch of a new SERI short film, Bringing the Truth Home, and started a week-long campaign to raise awareness about the slow progress of the state and Lonmin in ensuring that there is justice for the victims of Marikana. >>Read the full media alert here.
  • SERI and SAITF launch new resource guide for informal traders (20 March 2017). On Wednesday 22 March 2017 SERI, in partnership with the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF), launched a new resource guide for informal traders in Johannesburg. The launch took place at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. Informal Trade in Johannesburg: Your Rights is a resource guide for informal traders making a living in Johannesburg which spells out what their rights are, and what avenues are available to ensure those rights are protected. >>Read the full media alert here.
  • 60 000 informal settlement occupiers resist eviction in the High Court (7 February 2017). SERI appeared in the Western Cape High Court between 8 February 2017 and 15 February 2017, representing the approximately 60 000 occupiers of the Marikana informal settlement, located in Phillipi on the Cape Flats. The occupiers argued that there is no humane and dignified manner in which a settlement of that size could be evicted or relocated. They asked the court to grant an order requiring the City of Cape Town to consider the  expropriation  of  the  land. >>Read the full media alert here.
  • Persistence of Apartheid planning perpetuates unemployment crisis, report finds (15 December 2016).  SERI has published the results of our research on the relationship between a person’s place of residence and their chances of getting a job in South Africa’s major cities. Edged Out: Spatial Mismatch and Spatial Justice in South Africa’s Main Urban Areas presents overwhelming evidence of unjust urban planning in South African cities. It finds that housing for the poor tends to be located far away from job opportunities. This creates a poverty trap, in which poor people are confined to residence in areas least likely to provide them with the opportunity to get a job and support themselves. >>Read the full media alert here.
  • High Court lifts Rhodes protest crackdown (1 December 2016). The Grahamstown High Court dismissed Rhodes University’s application for an order regulating student protest on its campus. The University wanted to finalise an interim order it was granted in April 2016, when a group of at least 200 students started a spontaneous protest against what they say is a culture of rape and sexual violence at Rhodes. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Wits students left without relief as interdict application dismissed (3 November 2016).  The Gauteng Local Division of the High Court dismissed an application of more than 25 students of the University of the Witwatersrand to interdict the University and restrict it from commencing its year-end examinations, and postponing examinations by at least two weeks. Their preparations had been curtailed, through no fault of their own, by recent #FeesMustFall protests on campus and the University’s response to them. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Western Cape farm workers victorious in Labour Appeal Court (22 August 2016).  The Labour Appeal Court upheld an appeal against the Labour Court’s refusal of the Robertson Abattoir workers’ claims for unfair dismissal. For the past six years, the Commercial Stevedoring and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) has pursued the case on behalf of 39 workers dismissed by Robertson Abattoir (now Robertson Farm Assured Meat). >>Read the full statement here
  • SERI launches three new research publications (28 July 2016).  On Friday 29 July SERI is launched three new research publications drawing on our clients’ experiences of the right of access to adequate housing in different contexts in South Africa, the implications of our research findings and our litigation experiences. SERI released two new Community Practice Note series and our first Policy Brief. >>Read the full media alert here.
  • Court saves 463 people from eviction in Jeppestown (15 June 2016).  The Johannesburg High Court yesterday rescinded an eviction order against 463 Jeppestown residents. The notice directing the residents to appear in court told them that they should appear on 17 February 2015, but the notice was only served on 2 March 2015. The eviction hearing actually took place on 24 March 2015. None of the residents attended the hearing. Acting Judge Naude rescinded and set aside the eviction order. >>Read the full statement here.
  • SERI launches new sale in execution guide (3 June 2016).  Entitled ‘Preventing or Opposing a Sale in Execution: A Legal Guide’, the guide is a resource for individuals and households who are facing the threat of a sale in execution of their homes by creditors, as well as for community-based paralegals and lawyers who deal with sales in execution of people’s homes or bank repossessions. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Constitutional Court upholds debtors’ rights (21 April 2016).  The Constitutional Court held that a consumer who falls into arrears with her loan repayments can reinstate her credit agreement by bringing her account up-to-date, even after a bank has obtained judgment for the full amount she borrowed. >>Read the full statement here.
  • 28 informal settlement residents granted bail after 3 weeks in prison (16 February 2016). The Lenasia Magistrates’ Court granted bail to 28 residents of Precast and Thembelihle informal settlements, who had been arrested in the wake of two days of protest in the area. Despite there being no evidence that any of the residents had committed any offence, they were detained for almost three weeks at the Johannesburg Correctional Centre (Sun City). >>Read the full statement here.
  • Inner city building owner takes law into its own hands (8 December 2015). The High Court heard an urgent application brought by the residents of Chung Hua Mansions who were evicted from their homes during a police raid on 30 November. The raid formed part of the government’s now notorious “Operation Fiela”.The residents were rendered homeless as a result of the raid, and were forced to sleep on the streets outside of the building. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Land Claims Court overturns unjust eviction (25 October 2015). The Land Claims Court set aside an order granted in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court for the eviction of 79 long-term residents living on farmland in Honeydew.  The Land Claims Court replaced the order of the Magistrate with an order dismissing the eviction application. The judgment rejects the tick-box approach of owners to eviction applications and the perfunctory acceptance of these arguments by judicial officers. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Sunnyside 7 released (25 October 2015). SERI lawyers secured the release of six students and one informal trader who were arrested after the Police opened fire with teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets on students protesting outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria. >>Read the full statement here.
  • SERI demands the release of the Sunnyside seven (24 October 2015). Seven students were held without charge at the Sunnyside police station after being arrested in the aftermath of national student action at the Union Buildings. SERI demanded that the seven students at Sunnyside police station, and any others in detention after the mass action, be appropriately charged by the police or immediately released. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Marikana families left in the dark despite President’s assurances to the media (9 October 2015). The Minister of Police has indicated that he intends to oppose the damages claims lodged on behalf of the families of the miners killed at Marikana in August 2012. The families filed claims in August 2015 against the Minister for compensation and a formal apology for the loss of their loved ones.Despite promising the settle the matter, the Minister has now indicated that he intends to oppose it. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Regulation of informal trade in Johannesburg in disarray, but alternative vision is possible (29 September 2015). SERI has released a new research report. The report, entitled ‘The End of the Street?’ Informal Traders’ Experiences of Rights and Regulations in Inner City Johannesburg, documents the realities of informal trade, and the ways in which it is regulated, in Johannesburg’s inner city.The report presents two sets of findings. The first concerns the realities of informal trade regulation.The second set of findings presents some of the lived realities of traders making a living in the inner city. The report’s primary conclusions are that there is considerable scope for the City to improve the management of informal trade, and that any restriction or prohibition on trade is likely to negatively affect the way that traders make a living as it undermines the benefits that traders derive from permanence. >>Read the full statement here.
  • CSAAWU’S doors will stay open (23 September 2015). On 14 August, the Constitutional Court dismissed the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers’ Union’s (CSAAWU) applications for leave to appeal against two costs orders handed down in the Cape Town Labour Court. The costs orders threatened to close CSAAWU down. Although the Constitutional Court did not itself order costs against the union, as a result of its decisions, the costs orders of the Labour Court have remained in place. CSAAWU has reached agreements with the farmers in whose favour the orders were granted, and the litigation together with the publicity around it has enabled CSAAWU to raise funds which will allow it to pay off the once debilitating costs orders. CSAAWU continues its fight and will stay open. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Constitutional Court dismisses Legal Aid appeal (22 September 2015). The Constitutional Court dismissed Legal Aid SA’s final bid to overturn the Pretoria High Court judgment directing it to provide legal aid to the miners who were arrested and injured after the Marikana massacre. The High Court judgment, handed down in 2013, enabled the miners to participate in the Marikana Commission of Inquiry by requiring that their legal representatives be funded at legal aid rates. The miners were, at the time, the only party before the Commission whose legal representatives were not paid for by the state or private foundations. SERI acted for the families of the deceased miners and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) at the Constitutional Court. >>Read the full statement here.
  • SERI participates in historic first decision of UN committee on social rights (22 September 2015). On 18 September 2015, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) considered South African and international jurisprudence in issuing its first recommendations. The Committee found that Spain violated the right to housing under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), by failing to provide effective protections and remedies to consumers in mortgage foreclosure proceedings. SERI, with partners from the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Network (ESCR-net), was admitted to the case as third-party interveners. In making its recommendations, the Committee referred extensively to the South African jurisprudence developed around foreclosure proceedings. Among the cases the Committee relied on in its decision are Gundwana v Steko Development, Kubyana v Standard Bank, and Absa v Lekuku. SERI was centrally involved in each of these cases, acting for the appellant in Gundwana and Kubayna, and as amicus curiae at the request of the Court in Lekuku. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Court reverses Hillbrow eviction (10 September 2015). 147 men, women and children returned to their homes after their eviction from a block of flats in Hillbrow, was reversed in urgent court. The eviction took place after the City of Johannesburg sold the property to recover outstanding rates and taxes. However, the residents were given no notice of the sale, no notice of the application for their eviction, and no notice of the date on which they were supposed to appear in court. An eviction order was granted in their absence. The court said that the residents' rights to be restored to their homes while they challenged the eviction order were "unassailable" and criticised the failure to ensure that the residents were notified that they were under threat of eviction. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Durban High Court stops thousands of evictions (20 August 2015). Judge Mokgohloa, sitting in the Durban High Court handed down judgment in MEC for Human Settlements, KwaZulu Natal v. eThekwini Municipality and Others. The Judge struck down a temporary court order that had been used by the MEC and the Durban Municipality to evict thousands of poor people from informal settlements in Durban. The court confirmed evictions are governed by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) and section 26 (3) of the Constitution. The process prescribed by those instruments must be followed before the eviction of unlawful occupiers is undertaken. PIE and the Constitution are intended to respect the dignity of the poor, and ensure that alternative accommodation is provided where needed. The interim order granted to the MEC was not sought or granted under PIE, nor could it be, because it allowed for people to be evicted without court oversight and without notice. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Constitutional Court dismisses appeals against Labour Court's costs orders (14 August 2015). The Constitutional Court has dismissed applications for leave to appeal against two costs orders handed down by Judge Steenkamp in the Cape Town Labour Court.  Judge Steenkamp’s orders were made against a group of farm workers and their union, the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers’ Union (CSAAWU) after the workers and CSAAWU failed in their bids to challenge a series of unfair dismissals. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Families of Marikana mineworkers file civil claims against Government (11 August 2015). The families of the 37 mineworkers killed at Marikana on 13 and 16 August 2012 have filed civil claims against the Minister of Police in the High Court in Pretoria. The families are claiming compensation for the loss of the financial support of the deceased to their families, grief and emotional shock caused by the death of their husbands, fathers, brothers and caregivers, the medical expenses of psychological and psychiatric treatment, and their loss of family life and parental care. The families also claim a formal apology from the Minister of Police for the loss of their loved ones. An apology will bring much needed closure to the families who feel they have been have been abandoned by the South African government. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Tembisa shack-residents challenge housing scam (2 June 2015). The Ekurhuleni Concerned Residents Association (ECRA) and 133 of its members have launched an application in the Pretoria High Court to correct widespread misallocation of state-subsidised housing in Tembisa. Each of the residents was approved and allocated a particular state-subsidised stand, only to find other people living there when they tried to move in. As a result, the residents cannot take possession of the stands allocated to them. By fraud or negligence, those stands have been given to other people, unknown to the residents. >>Read the full media advisory here.
  • Families request Marikana Report be released by Friday (27 May 2015). SERI and the LRC issued a press statement regarding the publication of the Marikana Commission report. The organisations wrote to President Jacob Zuma expressing concern that the report has not yet been publically released, despite the clear public interest in it being promptly made available. They have requested that the President release the report by 1 June 2015 and have also written to Judge Ian Farlam requesting that, in the event that the President refuses to release the report by 1 June, he and his fellow Commissioners release the report. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Supreme Court puts public officials on the hook (18 March 2015). The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the Hlophe case has confirmed that municipal officials can face contempt of court proceedings if they fail to ensure that municipalities obey court orders. The SCA was ruling on an appeal by the City of Johannesburg against an order of the Johannesburg High Court made in April 2013, which directed Mayor Parks Tau, City Manager Trevor Fowler and former Director of Housing Thabo Maisela, to take all the steps necessary to provide 180 poor residents with alternative accommodation, failing which they could be sued for contempt. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Thembelihle arrested granted bail after 5 days in jail (3 March 2015). 33 residents of Thembelihle informal settlement walked free having been detained for 5 days. The residents were arrested for public violence during a protest at the settlement last Thursday. Many of the residents deny that they were even part of the protest. They say they were arrested indiscriminately because their houses happened to be near the site of the protest. >>Read the full statementhere.
  • SERI welcomes SA government's ratification of ICESCR (19 January 2015). SERI is delighted by the South African government's ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which will enter into force on 12 April 2015. The South African government signed the ICESCR twenty years ago and while it has taken its time to ratify the ICESCR, it is an important step forward that the ICESCR will now have greater force. >>Read the full statement here.
  • Court refuses to evict pensioners after owner’s “intimidatory tactics” (16 January 2015). The South Gauteng High Court dismissed an eviction application against two 71 year-old pensioners who have lived and worked on land in Fairlands, Johannesburg for 44 years. Acting Judge Paul Carstensen found in the Matlaila case that the owner of the land had not proven that an eviction order would be just and equitable. He dismissed the application with costs. >>Read the full press statement here
  • Families to make closing arguments before the Marikana Commission (10 November 2014). On Tuesday 11 November 2014 the families of 36 of the deceased miners killed at Marikana in August 2012 will deliver closing arguments before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, instructed by SERI, will argue on behalf of the families. It has been a long and painful journey for the families. They have attended the Commission for two years in order to discover the truth about what happened to their loved ones, and why. They have come to a number of conclusions about what happened between 13 and 16 August 2012, and who bears responsibility for the massacre that occurred. >>Read the full press statement here.
  • Protest is the “only language government understands” (16 September 2014). On 16 September SERI launched a new research report entitled An Anatomy of Dissent and Repression: The Criminal Justice System and the 2011 Thembelihle Protest. At the event the author of the report, SERI researcher Michael Clark, explained how in September 2011 residents of Thembelihle informal settlement in Lenasia took to the streets, frustrated by an unaccountable and unresponsive local government. Their demands were dismissed and instead they were met with a forceful police clamp-down. In the aftermath of the protest, arrest and criminal prosecution were used to harass and intimidate community members and to target community leaders. >>Read the full press statement here.
  • SCA dismisses Legal Aid SA’s appeal in Marikana funding case (8 September 2014). On 8 September the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed Legal Aid SA’s appeal against the High Court’s decision in Magidiwana v President of the Republic of South Africa handed down last year. The SCA indicated that it will give full reasons for its decision at a later stage. It made its ruling after asking the parties to address it solely on whether the appeal would have any practical effect or result. The injured and arrested miners, together the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the families of the deceased miners argued that Legal Aid SA’s promise to fund the miners meant that the appeal would have no practical effect. >>Read the full SERI statement here.
  • Marikana legal funding: correcting inaccurate reports (20 July 2014). SERI corrects an inaccurate and misleading report by reporter Loyiso Sidimba in the Sunday Independent which claims that lawyers for the arrested and injured miners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry "received about R5.13 million in legal fees". This is not true. The papers submitted to the Supreme Court of Appeal by Legal Aid SA in fact state that no money has yet been paid to the miners, but that up to R5.13 million has been budgeted in terms of a contract that has yet to be concluded between Legal Aid SA and the miners' legal team. >>Read the full SERI statement here.
  • City of Joburg leaves poor out in the cold (10 June 2014). Over 1 000 occupiers of several inner city Johannesburg buildings issued an application in the Johannesburg High Court, requesting the court to declare that the City of Johannesburg has failed to discharge its obligations, under section 26(2) of the Constitution, to provide temporary accommodation to people facing eviction. The application is a response to the City’s attempt to get an order suspending nearly 30 pending evictions, because it does not have land or buildings available to provide for people who are evicted. The City claims this inability to provide alternative accommodation is due to it awaiting the outcome of the Dladla matter, in which residents of alternative accommodation provided by the City are challenging the lawfulness of the rules in the accommodation. >>Read the full SERI statement here.
  • Concourt slams “unacceptable” eviction (6 June 2014). On 6 June 2014, the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in Zulu and 389 Others v eThekwini Municipality and Others (Zulu). SERI represents Abahlali baseMjondolo (Abahlali) who acted as amicus curiae in the case. The case concerned the interpretation of a court order obtained by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works on 28 March 2013 from the Durban High Court. The order was used to justify the Cato Crest evictions in 2013. SERI welcomes the Court’s finding that the order amounted to an eviction order, and its finding that the eThekwini Municipality had used the order to evict people. The municipality had argued that the order could not and was not used to evict people, even though the municipality had relied on it to evict the appellants 25 times. The court correctly found this dishonest submission to be “unacceptable”. SERI also welcomes the judgment of van der Westhuizen J, which found that the order was invalid because it was granted in breach of the Constitution. >>Read the full SERI statement here.
  • Marikana Commission Terms of Reference amended (10 May 2014). SERI has noted with concern the deletion of paragraph 1.5 from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry's Terms of Reference, and the announcement that the Commission intends to curtail its proceedings on 31 July 2014. The clause in paragraph 1.5 empowered the Commission to investigate the role played by any government department or agency in relation to the incident. The deletion of this clause has created the impression that the Commission does not intend to require any of the relevant cabinet Ministers to testify before it in relation to the role they played in the events leading up to the 16 August 2012 massacre at Marikana. SERI made enquiries with the Commission, seeking clarification on the meaning and effect of deleting paragraph 1.5 of the Terms of Reference, and were given a number of assurances. >>Read the full SERI press statement here.
  • Con Court condemns Operation Clean Sweep as an act of "humiliation and degradation" (4 April 2014). The Constitutional Court today handed down a judgment explaining its reasons for ordering the City of Johannesburg to allow informal traders to return to their stalls in the inner city of Johannesburg on 5 December last year. Evoking the spirit of Nelson Mandela, the Acting Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke condemned “Operation Clean Sweep” as an act of “humiliation and degradation” which rendered thousands of people, and their children, destitute. >>Read the full SERI press release here.
  • Legal NGOs welcome UN Human Rights Council resolution on adequate housing (28 March 2014). SERI, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) and the Community Law Centre (CLC) welcome the news from Geneva that a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the right to housing was adopted this morning at the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council. The resolution is important as it reiterates the international human rights law commitment to safeguard the right of access to adequate housing. It recognises that security of tenure enhances the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing and is significant to the enjoyment of many other socio-economic and civil and political rights. The resolution specifically reinforces safeguards against arbitrary eviction or the displacement of people with insecure tenure. >>Read the full SERI, CALS and CLC press statement here.
  • Nkandla report’s story: Taking from the poor to give to the rich (20 March 2014). On 19 March 2014, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her report on the investigation into the upgrades made to President Jacob Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla. SERI notes with particular concern the finding that the Department of Public Works reallocated public funds earmarked for inner city regeneration and dolomite rehabilitation initiatives to the upgrades at the President’s residence. The report states that this “negatively impacted” on service delivery projects and constitutes improper conduct and maladministration. The ‘reallocation’ of public funds that could significantly alleviate the dire consequences of socio-economic disadvantage, poverty and inequality in this manner is deeply troubling. The government regularly asserts that it does not have the resources to fulfil its constitutional obligations to fully realise socio-economic rights. This report highlights that these claims are often disingenuous. >>Read the full press statement here.
  • SERI launches two research publications (27 February 2014). SERI releases two research reports which highlight the failure of the Johannesburg municipality to pursue just, humane and inclusive regeneration policies in its inner city. The first of SERI’s two reports responds to the fact that neither property owners nor municipalities have fully come to terms with the significant paradigm shift in the law relating to eviction and urban regeneration.The second SERI report shows that, there are few formal housing options available to low-income and poor inner city residents. >>Read the full press release here.
  • Beatrice Mtetwa arrest a threat to the rule of law, Commonwealth mission finds (24 February 2014). The arrest and detention of Zimbabwean attorney Beatrice Mtetwa breached the rule of law, a Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) mission has found. The CLA’s final report on the trial observation mission undertaken to monitor the trial of the Zimbabwean human rights lawyer was released today. The mission was conducted between March and November 2013 by a trial observer team comprising staff at SERI. >>Read the full press state statement here.
  • Credit consumers left in distress by Con Court judgment (20 February 2014). SERI has taken note of the Constitutional Court’s decision in Kubyana v Standard Bank, handed down on 20 February 2014. SERI respects the decision of the Court. However, we remain concerned that the decision may not do enough to protect distressed consumers who have fallen into arrears on their credit agreements and who are genuinely in need of debt counselling and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. These options are a debtor’s last hope of consensually resolving disputes which may result in money judgments being taken against them, perhaps leading to the loss of a home, or other property vital to their well-being. >>Read the full press release here
  • Slovo Park informal settlement goes to court to compel upgrading (4 February 2014). On 30 January 2014 the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF), represented by SERI, launched an application in the Johannesburg High Court on behalf of approximately 7 000 people (3 709 households) living at the Slovo Park informal settlement in Johannesburg. The Slovo Park residents want the court to review and set aside the City of Johannesburg’s failure to take a decision to make an application to the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing for funding to upgrade the informal settlement in terms of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP). >>Read the SPCDF and SERI press statement here.

Page 1 of 2