The workshop organised by ProBono.Org sought to address issues relating to family property and inheritance. The presentations provided a historical perspective to the various legislation and polices that were enacted and gave rise to the term ‘Family House.’ The presentations further interrogated the current usage of the term and the attitude of the court when dealing with matters relating to the ‘Family House’ and the vulnerability of women who are being evicted. Drawing from her recent book, “Untitled”, Lauren’s presentation provided insight on reform and possible mechanisms that can be employed to address the issue of insecure tenure.

This week, SERI hosted the third Bertha Foundation's South African Public Interest Lawyers Advocacy Training. The workshop for young lawyers from across the South African public interest law sector. The workshop trains participants on trial advocacy and is facilitated by SERI and specialist advocacy trainers from City University in London. 



Today SERI responds to Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille’s comments on a judgement from the Western Cape High Court which ordered the City of Cape Town to purchase land for 60 000 people of the “Marikana” informal settlement in Philippi near Cape Town which they currently occupy. 

In an opinion piece published on 10 September 2017 Zille misrepresents the facts of the case, ignores the applicable law, and fails to come to grips with the practical realities faced by the Marikana residents, who face a daily struggle to secure a home.

  • Read SERI’s response here.
  • Read more about the case here

On 5 September, SERI's director of research and advocacy, Alana Potter, appeared of eNCA's Checkpoint to discuss the limited access to, and poor conditions of, sanitation services in informal settlements across South Africa.

Access to adequate sanitation is fundamental to personal dignity and security, social and psychological well-being, public health, poverty reduction, gender equality, economic development and environmental sustainability. Poor sanitation promotes the spread of preventable diseases like diarrhoea and cholera, places stress on the weakened immune system of HIV positive people and has a major impact on the quality of life of people living with AIDS. However, many informal settlement residents in both rural and urban areas are still forced daily to use wholly inadequate means of sanitation. In the majority of informal settlements, the sanitation services are public or communal. As a result, many informal settlement residents have to travel long distances to use toilets, and risk their own personal safety and health.

Potter also discusses the vulnerability of the janitorial workers who clean chemical toilets in informal settlements. As she says during the programme: "Janitorial workers are some of the worst treated casual labourers that we know in South Africa..."

  • Watch the full programme here (Part 1), here (Part 2) and here (Part 3).
  • Read SERI's guide, Basic Sanitation in South Africa: A Guide to Legislation, Policy and Practice (July 2011), here.


On 30 August 2017, the Western Cape High Court dismissed an application to evict 60 000 people living in the “Marikana” informal settlement in Philippi near Cape Town. In its ground-breaking case, the court ordered the City of Cape Town (the City) to enter into good faith negotiations with the property owners about purchasing the land for the Marikana residents. If negotiations fail, the court ordered the City to expropriate the land or provide reasons why it is unable to do so.

SERI represented the majority of the residents of the Marikana informal settlement. The residents moved into the Marikana informal settlement because they had been evicted from backyard shacks or other rented accommodation or informal settlements elsewhere in Cape Town. In February, SERI argued to court that state purchase or expropriation of the Marikana land are the only reasonable options that could be pursued in order to avoid making the Marikana residents homeless again. SERI further submitted that section 9(3) of the Housing Act 107 of 1997 provides the appropriate legal framework within which to manage the purchase or expropriation of the Marikana land, and that the City’s failure to initiate the process required by section 9(3) is unreasonable and unconstitutional.

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