• High Court sets aside FNB’s sale of mortgaged home, 13 December 2013. On 12 December 2013 the Pretoria High Court set aside the sale-in-execution of a mortgaged home belonging to a Soweto family. While the family had paid the entire amount due to the bank, it sold their home on public auction anyway. By SERI’s calculations (which FNB did not dispute) between the date on which summons was issued and the date on which the sale took place the Thwalas paid about R500 more than the total value of the default judgment, plus interest and other payments to FNB. >>Read the press release here.
  • JMPD officials disregard Con Court order, assault and arrest SERI lawyer, 5 December 2013. Nomzamo Zondo, an attorney from SERI who represents the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and over 1 200 informal traders, was arrested on the afternoon of 5 December by Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officers in the Johannesburg CBD. Her arrest came only a few hours after the Constitutional Court interdicted the City of Johannesburg from interfering with lawful informal traders’ rights to trade in the inner city, pending the hearing of an application to the High Court to review the decision to implement the so-called Operation Clean Sweep campaign in the inner city. >>Read the full press statement here. Update: Nomzamo was eventually charged with public violence and interfering with the duties of a uniformed police officer, and granted prosecutorial bail of R500 late on Thursday evening. The following morning all the charges against her were dropped.
  • Informal traders appeal to Con Court, 2 December 2013. The South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and over 1 200 informal traders have applied to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal the South Gauteng High Court order handed down on 27 November, which struck the traders’ case from the roll. SAITF wants the matter dealt with urgently and for the Constitutional Court to place the traders – who have always traded lawfully – in a position to continue with their lawful business activities, pending the determination of the appeal (either to the Constitutional Court or to a Full Bench of the High Court). This trading would occur in line with the City of Johannesburg’s Informal Trading By-Laws at the locations the traders occupied immediately before their removal in terms of Operation Clean Sweep. >>Read the full SERI press release here.
  • Informal trader beaten by JMPD officers, 25 November 2013. On the afternoon of Friday 22 November 2013, Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officials assaulted and arrested a number of informal traders in the inner city of Johannesburg. A female trader from Mozambique, who is currently represented by SERI, witnessed the assaults and was subsequently beaten and arrested. This press statement contains an account of the incident drawn from her statement. She remains anonymous as she will be laying charges against the police and fears being victimised. We refer to her in this press statement as “Belinda”. >>Read the press statement (25 November 2013) here.
  • SAITF in urgent court bid to assist informal traders, 20 November 2013. SERI has launched an urgent application in the South Gauteng High Court for an order returning 1211 informal traders to the streets. The application asks that the traders be permitted to trade in a manner consistent with the City’s Informal Trading By-Laws, at the locations they occupied immediately before their removal. The traders further request that the City be directed to re-erect the trading stalls removed, or alternatively to permit them to continue trading on the sites where those stalls previously stood. >> Read the SERI press release (20 November 2013) here.
  • Informal traders to take City of Joburg and JMPD to court over ‘Operation Clean Sweep’, 14 November 2013. The South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and 1 500 informal traders sent a letter to the City of Johannesburg and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) demanding that they be permitted to return to trading in the inner city. SAITF and the traders intend to bring an application to the Johannesburg High Court to review the decision to forcibly remove them and thousands of other traders under the auspices of the City’s ‘Operation Clean Sweep.’ >>Read the press release (14 November 2013) here.
  • SERI condemns the crack-down on informal traders in inner city Johannesburg, 23 October 2013. SERI notes with concern the sustained crack-down on informal traders that has taken place since 10 October under the auspices of a "clean up" initiative of the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg. These operations were characterised by Metro Police officials forcing thousands of informal traders to vacate their trading posts, as well as the demolition of stalls, confiscation and impounding of goods and physical assaults on informal traders. These operations threaten the essential livelihood opportunities and dignity of informal traders and should be condemned in the strongest terms. >>Read the press release here.
  • Durban officials face imprisonment for Cato Crest evictions, 9 September 2013. On Friday 6 September 2013 Abahlali baseMjondolo and residents of Cato Crest informal settlement approached the Durban High Court for a third time, to prevent the eThekwini Municipality from illegally destroying their homes. They applied for a contempt of court order against eThekwini Municipality. The Durban High Court granted a rule nisi (an interim order to be confirmed at a later date) which compels the Municipal Manager of eThekwini Municipality and the Head of the Land Invasion Unit to appear at court on Thursday 12 September to explain why they should not be imprisoned for 30 days for allowing illegal evictions to continue at Cato Crest in contempt of an order obtained on 2 September which prohibited the demolition of shacks. >>Read the press release here.
  • eThekwini Municipality goes rogue, illegally evicts residents, 2 September 2013. eThekwini Municipality has been evicting residents Of Cato Crest informal settlement in violation of an undertaking it made to the Durban High Court. Following illegal evictions at the settlement, the residents, together with Abahlali baseCato Crest (a newly formed branch of shackdwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo), approached the Durban High Court for an urgent interdict stopping the municipality and KZN MEC for Human Settlements from demolishing shacks at Cato Crest. On 23 August 2013, the residents’ application for interim relief was granted, following an undertaking by the state to the court that it would halt evictions at Cato Crest pending the finalisation of the application for a final order. >>Read the press release here.
  • Report argues housing 'queue' is a myth, 29 August 2013. On 29 August 2013, the Community Law Centre (CLC) and SERI officially launched a research report entitled 'Jumping the Queue', Waiting Lists and Other Myths: Perceptions and Practice around Housing Demand and Allocation in South Africa. >>Read the CLC and SERI press release here.
  • Tribunal: Landlords cannot profit off electricity ‘service charges', 18 June 2013. The Gauteng Rental Housing Tribunal has handed down an important ruling for tenants, finding that the charging of an electricity "service charge" violates the Gauteng Unfair Practices Regulations and amounts to a profit which the landlord is not entitled to make. >>Read the SERI press release here.
  • Mayor of Joburg warned to house poor or face being held in contempt of court, 3 May 2013. On 3 May 2013, the Johannesburg High Court directed the Executive Mayor, City Manager and Director of Housing for the City of Johannesburg to personally explain why the City has not acted to provide shelter to the homeless, over 18 months after a Constitutional Court decision requiring it to do so. They must also take all the steps necessary to provide shelter to the 201 occupiers of Chung Hua Mansions at 191 Jeppe Street within two months. If they do not, they could be held in contempt, and be handed a fine or face jail time. >>Read the SERI press release here.
  • Minister of Police to pay damages to Abahlali members for police brutality, 22 April 2013. On 22 April 2013, the Durban High Court ordered the Minister of Police to pay a total of R165 000 in damages to two members of shackdwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo - Sbu Zikode and Philani Zungu – and one resident of the Kennedy Road informal settlement. The order, made by agreement, comes after officers from Sydenham Police Station illegally arrested and assaulted Zungu while he and Zikode were travelling to a radio debate with the then KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Housing, Mike Mabuyakhulu, in September 2006. Other officers from Sydenham Police Station then illegally shot a woman at the Kennedy Road informal settlement. The woman was part of a crowd which had gathered to demonstrate against the arrest of Zikode and Zungu. >>Read the SERI and Abahlali media statement here.
  • Statement on behalf of the deceased miners’ families represented before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, 15 March 2013. The SERI Law Clinic has been instructed to release a statement on behalf of the families of the striking miners killed by the police on 16 August 2012. The families do not accept National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s “condolences”, offered before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry on 14 March 2013. They demand a full-throated apology from Commissioner Phiyega and an acknowledgement of responsibility for having killed their family members. >>Read the press statement here.
  • Families of Marikana deceased demand payment from SAPS, 28 February 2013. The families of those killed during the Marikana massacre are demanding payment from the SAPS for loss of support and general damages incurred as a result. They have given notice of their intention to sue the Minister of Police and the National Police Commissioner for damages. >>Read the press release here.