On 10 October 2017, staff from the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) delivered a series of lecturers to government officials as part of the certificate programme on Human Settlement Policy and Management offered by the School of Governance at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. The course aims to capacitate government officials working in South Africa’s housing and human settlements sector by ensuring that officials effectively understand and implement the legal and policy framework governing ‘sustainable human settlements’. The course was attended by approximately 36 current government officials working in housing and human settlements, including officials from the national Department of Human Settlement, officials from the provincial Departments of Human Settlements in Mpumalanga and the North West, and local government officials from municipalities in the Northern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State.
SERI staff delivered various presentations dealing with the inssues of informal settlement upgrading, tenure security of informal settlement residents living on communal land and the law governing evictions. The first presentation, delivered by SERI researcher Tiffany Ebrahim, focused on the implementation of incremental in situ upgrading of the Slovo Park informal settlement in terms of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP). The presentation emphasised the importance of a local level steering committee, such as the Slovo Park task team, to assist in planning and implementing upgrading projects. Dan Moalahi, a member of the community-based organisation the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF), gave officials a brief background on the experiences of the Slovo Park community and detailed the challenges faced in accessing services and mobilising for informal settlement upgrading.
The presentation was followed by a presentation on the tenure security of people living in informal settlements on communal land delivered by SERI candidate attorney, Lwazi Mtshiyo. The presentation was based on SERI's findings in a commissioned research report for the Housing Development Agency (HDA), entitled Tenure Security in Informal Settlements on Customary Land (December 2015).
The day was concluded with a presentation by SERI community research and advocacy officer, Edward Molopi, on the law governing evictions. This included a discussion on the Prevention of Illegal Evictions, and Unlawful Occupation of Land, Act 19 of 1998 (the PIE Act) and the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 (ESTA), as well as an interactive exercise following the screening of the full-length documentary film Dear Mandela.