• 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