• South Africa to ratify international socio-economic rights convenant, 12 October 2012. Human rights groups welcome Cabinet’s approval of South Africa’s ratification of the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Almost eighteen years after the South African government signed the ICESCR, Cabinet has approved that South Africa will ratify the ICESCR. This important decision to ratify, which means that the ICESCR will be legally binding, was included in a statement issued yesterday on Cabinet’s ordinary meeting held in Pretoria on 10 October 2012. >>Read the press statement by the ICESCR Ratification Campaign here.
  • Kennedy Road shackdwellers sue police, 27 September 2012. Former residents of the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban are pursuing damages claims against the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, three years after the police failed to protect them from an armed gang that invaded the settlement in September 2009. This is an important case because it holds the police responsible to prevent violence perpetuated by others when it is in a position to do so. >>Read the statement here.
  • Victory for forgotten shack dwellers, 19 September 2012. Following a hearing on 17 September 2012, Acting Judge Nigel Hollis in the Durban High Court granted an order in which he requires the Mayor of eThekwini, the City Manager and the Director of Housing to take all the necessary steps, within three months, to provide permanent housing to 37 poor families living in a transit camp near KwaMashu, Durban. This is line with a court order than was granted in 2009, which stated that the municipality should provide housing to the evicted occupiers by no later than a year from the date of the court order. This never happened and the families have been living at the camp ever since. If the municipal office-bearers do not comply with the High Court order, they may be held in contempt and fined or imprisoned. >>Read the media statement by SERI and Abahlali baseMjondolo here.
  • Court rules on duties of courts, municipalities in eviction proceedings, 18 September 2012. SERI has contributed to an important SCA decision that establishes an appropriate set of procedures and standards in eviction proceedings which might lead to homelessness. On 14 September 2012, the SCA handed down judgment in the Tikwelo House case. >>Read the media statement here.
  • SERI to represent AMCU at the Marikana Commission, 14 September 2012. SERI has been instructed to represent the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. >>Read the media statement here.
  • Civil Society Statement Regarding the Killings at Marikana: A Demand for Justice and Truth, 3 September 2012. SERI, together with a number of other human rights and legal CSOs, published a joint statement on the killings at Marikana, commenting on the current status of the arrested miners, the TORs of the Judicial Commission of Enquiry, and the nature of the IPID investigation. >>Read the joint statement here.
  • Systemic breakdown in City’s shelter policy, Judge told, 14 June 2012. In the new Chung Hua eviction application, the City of Johannesburg told the South Gauteng High Court that its registration process for homeless people had broken down. Judge Claassen ordered the City to provide 181 adults and 17 children living at Chung Hua Mansions with alternative accommodation. The occupiers are to be provided with temporary shelter, where they may live “secure against eviction”, by no later than 30 January 2013. The City must also report to the Court setting out the nature and location of the alternative accommodation to be provided by no later than 31 October 2012. >>Read the SERI press statement here and more on the case here.
  • Con Court stands up for consumers in Sebola judgment, 7 June 2012. The Constitutional Court acted to protect debtors who default on their credit agreements, handing down judgment in the Sebola case. Section 129(1) of the National Credit Act requires that debtors in default of a credit agreement be informed of their rights to debt counselling and other alternatives to enforcement of the agreement. The Court held that a notice under section 129(1) must be properly delivered to the consumer, who will be entitled to contest the enforcement of the credit agreement in the event that she did not receive the notice. Until today, it was sufficient for a credit provider to show that it had sent the notice to the consumer’s address. It did not matter if the consumer had not received it. >>Read the SERI press statement here and more on the case here.
  • Con Court hands down Saratoga judgment, 24 May 2012. The Constitutional Court handed down reasons for dismissing an application by the Saratoga Avenue occupiers for the variation of the eviction order granted by the Court in December 2011 in the Blue Moonlight case. The Court found that it is not the appropriate forum to enforce or vary the orders it gives on appeal, unless it declares a statute unconstitutional, or makes a detailed supervisory order which may require variation in light of changed circumstances. In other situations, the parties should approach the court in which the case was first considered e.g. the Johannesburg High Court. >>Read the SERI and CALS press release here. Read more on the Blue Moonlight case here.
  • Court declares Soweto woman customary law heir to prevent eviction, 9 May 2012. On 8 May 2012, the Johannesburg High Court declared that a girl taken in and treated as a daughter by a woman in Soweto could inherit as her customary law heir, even though she was never formally adopted. This outcome is important, as there is currently an eviction case in the Magistrate's Court pending the outcome of the woman's status. A relative is attempting to evict her and two other people living at the family home. >>Read the press release here.
  • High Court suspends Con Court's eviction order in Blue Moonlight case, 13 April 2012. The Johannesburg High Court has temporarily suspended the execution of the eviction order handed down by the Constitutional Court in December 2011 in the Blue Moonlight case. The order had directed the occupiers to vacate their homes by no later than yesterday, 15 April 2012. The High Court decision is a victory for the residents, because the City had not met the Constitutional Court’s deadline. The residents faced homelessness if evicted. The execution of the Constitutional Court eviction order is suspended until 2 May 2012 and the City is ordered to provide shelter to the occupiers by 30 April 2012. The City is required to report back to the residents on its progress, and a site visit has also been ordered to examine the proposed new accommodation. Read the CALS and SERI press release here.
  • Magistrate strikes Thembelihle case from roll, 11 April 2012. On 10 April 2012, the Protea Regional Court struck from the roll a criminal case brought against 14 residents of Thembelihle informal settlement (including 3 minors). The residents were arrested in September 2011 following protests at the settlement over access to housing and electricity. Read the press release here and more on the case here.
  • ConCourt ruling could make residents homeless, 30 March 2012. The Constitutional Court dismissed an application by 100 poor inner city residents to give effect to the order it handed down in City of Johannesburg v Blue Moonlight Properties on 1 December 2011. Read the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) and SERI press release here and more on the Blue Moonlight case here.
  • Con Court upholds tenants' rights, 13 March 2012. In a ground-breaking judgment in the Maphango case, the Constitutional Court affirmed the rights of tenants to challenge excessive rents and unfair lease terminations. In a majority judgment written by Cameron J, the Court found that that the High Court and SCA failed to give adequate weight to the Rental Housing Act, and that the landlord’s conduct may have amounted to an “unfair practice”. The Rental Housing Tribunal is empowered to determine whether a landlord committed an unfair practice, and it might accordingly have ruled in the tenants’ favour. The applicants are directed to lodge a complaint with the Tribunal before 2 May 2012. Read the SERI press release here and more on the case here.
  • City of Johannesburg set to breach Constitutional Court Order, 8 March 2012. The residents of Saratoga Avenue will return to the Constitutional Court to force the City to obey an order to provide them with temporary housing. The residents fear that the City has made no provision for them and intends to ignore the Constitutional Court’s order in City of Johannesburg v Blue Moonlight Properties, handed down on 1 December 2011. Read the SERI and CALS press release here and more on the case here.
  • eThekwini Municipality disobeys court order to provide housing and investigate corruption, 29 February 2012. SERI and Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) today published a press release highlighting the fact that the eThekwini Municipality has disobeyed a court order to provide housing to the 37 occupiers evicted from Siyanda informal settlement in 2009, and removed to the Richmond Farm transit camp. Read the press release here and more about the case here.