We would like to extend our deepest congratulations to Nkosinathi Sithole and Lindokuhle Mdabe who, after having both completed their articles at SERI, have been admitted as attorneys of the High Court of South Africa.

 

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SERI argued Dladla in February in the Constitutional Court. The case has far-reaching implications for housing jurisprudence in South Africa, and evictees' rights in alternative accommodation.

Edward Molopi and Syabonga Mahlangu have written an op-ed in todays's Business Day on the importance of the case, and some of the difficult realities of life in the inner city. Syabonga is the Secretary for the Inner City Federation, a coallition of inner city tenants in Johannesburg who organise around shared struggles.

Molopi and Mahlangu argue that: "Almost 50% of the inner-city population earns less than R3,500 per month and cannot afford to pay the high rental demanded by the property market. Due to a lack of affordable alternatives, many people reside informally in the inner city and are prone to evictions by the municipality and private landlords. When evicted, the city-provided temporary alternative accommodation is their only option to avoid homelessness.

  • Read the full op-ed here.

In a piece in openDemocracy, Stuart Wilson has weighed in on the rise of authoritarianism in the United States of America. He suggests that there are some important lessons to be learned from South Africa's struggle against apartheid, and draws a comparison between the USA in 2016/2017 and South Africa in 1948, suggesting that only concerted action will ensure that, in 50 years’ time, “the United States in 2016” isn’t just another grim historical metaphor.

According to Wilson:

"South Africans know a tyrant when we see one. The race-hate. The sexism. The contempt for human rights and the rule of law. The construction of the white male as the only authentic citizen. The attacks on the press. The disdain for international opprobrium, or any reasoned criticism at all. These were standard fare under apartheid.

A few well-worn historical patterns are being played out in the United States. A racist, intolerant demagoguery has captured the state. It was elected by a minority of those who voted. It does not play by the usual rules of political engagement, and it has no patience for constitutional niceties. It abhors professional, independent journalism. It ignores court orders and berates the judiciary. Facts it doesn’t like are “fake”. Voters who did not support it are “frauds”.

  • Read the full piece here.

Minister Pravin Gordhan will deliver the National Budget Speech tomorrow. Together with colleagues, we have contributed to the #HumanRightsBudgetSpeech. In the housing section of the speech, we suggest:

"The financial, human and social costs of relocations have been highlighted by communities around the country and are increasingly finding their way to our courts in eviction proceedings. The Constitution tells us “People’s needs must be responded to".

As an immediate measure we will therefore increase funding support for human settlements in general and strongly encourage provinces to prioritise this increased allocation for UISP implementation. Provinces, in turn, must incentivise municipalities to implement the policy instead of seeking relocations not favoured by residents of informal settlements."

  • Read the full speech here.

Dladla is being heard today in the Constitutional Court.

Evictees living in the Ekuthuleni shelter were locked out of their rooms during the day-time because the organisation running the shelter, Metro Evangelical Services, thought it would encourage job-seeking. The residents were also forced to live in gender segregated rooms, often seperated from their spouses or permanent life partners and children.

The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled last year that it is reasonable to limit the rights of evictees in these ways in circumstances where the state has provided them with temporary shelter.

SERI is attempting to have that decision overruled today in the Constitutional Court. Acting on behalf of former residents of 33 Saratoga Avenue, who were moved to the Ekuthuleni shelter after their eviction, SERI will argue that the house rules at the shelter infringe a number of their constitutional rights, including the right to dignity, privacy, freedom and security of the person, and access to adequate housing.

  • Read more about the case here.

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