The purpose was to hold a space in which government and civil society could dialogue on the urban land question, given the significance of the land question in the current period, with a specific focus on land for human settlements. The idea was to inform the national Department of Human Settlements’ policy and legal review process.
Government officials from the HDA, Department of Land Reform and Rural Development and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) attended. A range of non government stakeholders participated as well including LandNNEs, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), the National Social Housing Organisation (Nasho), Ndifuna Ukwazi, the Development Action Group (DAG) and Slum Dwellers International (SDI).
The first half of the event was devoted to government inputs, and discussion, while the second half was an opportunity for NGOs to present their perspectives on the issue. The HDA, SALGA, COGTA and the South African Cities Network gave presentations in the morning session, while SERI, Nasho, DAG and Ndifuna Ukwazi presented in the afternoon session, with SDI wrapping up the civil society panel.
Royston presented for SERI focusing on a framework for urban land reform, motivating the need for a reform agenda using the three legs of land reform derived from Section 25 of the Constitution namely, restitution, redistribution and tenure reform.
SERI, together with other key stakeholders, has subsequently made presentations and participated in discussion with the Presidency’s Advisory Panel on Land Reform.
SERI acts for the residents of Ingelosi House situated in Hillbrow, Johannesburg in an application to enforce an order granted by the Johannesburg High Court, directing the City of Johannesburg to provide the residents with alternative accommodation. There are 21 households on the property, comprising about 90 people, including 37 children. Many of the families have been living on the property for over eight years.
SERI previously acted for the residents in an application for leave to appeal against an eviction order granted in the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court on 28 May 2014. The appeal was heard before a full bench of the Johannesburg High Court and on 19 May 2017 the court set aside the eviction and remitted the matter back to the High Court.
On 16 April 2018, the High Court granted the eviction of the residents by 30 November 2018 on condition that the City provides the residents with alternative accommodation at least one month before the eviction. The court thus ordered the municipality to provide alternative accommodation to the residents by 31 October 2018. Furthermore, the court ordered the City to provide the residents, in writing, the nature and location of the alternative accommodation that will be provided by 31 August 2018.
The City failed to comply with the order and on 20 December 2018, SERI filed an application to enforce the order directing the City of Johannesburg to provide our clients at Ingelosi House with alternative accommodation.
Kelebogile first joined us in June 2018 as litigation intern before taking on the role of a candidate attorney in January 2019. She holds an LLB degree from the University of the Free State (UFS). She is the former chairperson of the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) at UFS and has served in various student and youth formations and led #FeesMustFall and #OutsourcingMustFall movements at UFS. She is a social and political activist who is passionate about social justice, equality, Black Consciousness and Pan Africanism. Her interests are in politics involving the struggles of the working class, community building and working to protect and advance the rights of marginalised groups.
Ornate joins us as a candidate attorney having completed his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He was an active member of Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) and also participated in the Constitution Hill Peer Education Project. Ornate is broadly interested in Human Rights work and making meaningful contributions to the achievement of social justice.
SERI's June 2018 newsletter is out. This is SERI's last newsletter of 2018. In it we present a few highlights from our work since June this year. SERI currently has 99 active cases through which we assist communities to resist evictions and secure basic services in their homes in informal settlements and inner city buildings; to safeguard their participation; hold duty bearers to account and defend their right to work.
We have also furthered our research and advocacy work, and participated in a number of exciting civil society and government engagements. SERI engaged actively with various urban land reform processes and dialogues, including the Department of Human Settlement’s policy and strategy reform process; SALGA’s Human Settlements and Municipal Working Group; the Presidency’s Advisory Panel on Land Reform and provided inputs on a new informal settlement upgrading financing mechanism. We continued to our work in enabling the informal economy in collaboration with SALGA and foregrounded the strategies and tactics employed by inner city residents in their struggle for decent well located housing.
During thsi time, we also made a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, on which she drew in her report on informal settlements and human rights to the UN General Assembly, and contributed to a parallel report on the South African government's progress in realising socio-economic rights to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee), the international treaty body responsible for monitoring the implementation of socio-economic rights by states.