Between 9 and 12 September 2019, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) partnered with City University of London and the Bertha Foundation to host an advocacy workshop in Johannesburg. The workshop was attended by 24 delegates from a range of public interest legal services organisations, including Legal Aid South Africa, SERI, Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), the Right2Know Campaign, and Ndifuna Ukwazi. A number of advocates from the Johannesburg Bar also attended the workshop.
The four-day workshop was aimed at equipping candidate attorneys, attorneys, and junior advocates working in public interest legal services organisations with practical experience in litigation and advocacy, with a particular focus on witness handling (leading evidence and cross-examining witnesses), trial skills and bail proceedings. The workshop began with two days of lectures, practical demonstrations and practice sessions focusing on key skills development. On the final day, the trainees are placed into teams and prepare overnight for a fully argued mock trial.
The workshop is a unique and critically important practical skills programme that supplies South African public interest legal practitioners with essential courtroom skills to enable them to provide better legal representation to the very poor and vulnerable people they work with across a wide range of different human rights work. In this way, SERI, the Bertha Foundation and City, University of London hope to contribute to the development and strengthening of well-trained, professional advocates working on public interest law.
SERI would like to thank our partners, City, University of London and the Bertha Foundation, for their support, practical assistance and the development of a professional and challenging curriculum; and the trainers for their high-quality teaching.
Learn more about this training in this short documentary, Advocates for Change, the film showcases the critical role played by human rights lawyers in South Africa and the importance of training highly skilled public interest lawyers to keep the promise of our constitutional democracy.
The film was produced by Ilya Melnikov, a film student at City University, London; and directed by Nikki Walsh, a senior lecturer at City University, London.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) in partnership with Abahlali BaseMjondolo invites you to the eThekwini Launch of:
Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency
SERI has produced three-site based research reports: “Left Behind: Siyanda Informal Settlement” which was produced in partnership with Abahlali BaseMjondolo and will be foregrounded in this launch, “Our Place to Belong: Marikana Informal Settlement” and “The Promised Land: Ratanang Informal Settlement”.
Siyanda is located in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal, Marikana in Cape Town, Western Cape and Ratanang in Klerksdorp, North West province. A fourth report, “Here to Stay”, synthesises and compares findings across the three sites.
The launch will consist of a stakeholder engagement, which will centre on the presentation of research findings and an exploration of policy implications for the upgrading of informal settlements.
When: Monday, 21 October 2019, 10:30 – 13:30.
Where: Diakonia Centre, 20 Diakonia Ave, Durban Central, Durban
This is SERI's second newsletter of 2019. In it we present a few highlights from our work since June 2019. Since its inception, SERI has undertaken over 500 litigious matters on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people and provided non-litigious support to many more. SERI currently has 97 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 right to 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. Among these, we have, in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), engaged the MMC of Economic Development and officials from the City of Johannesburg on constitutional and case law implications for the regulation of informal traders, including foreign nationals. We co-hosted a seminar with the South African Cities Network (SACN) on the exclusionary consequences of municipal revenue incentives. We presented at an international conference in Nairobi, Kenya on the management of public assemblies and commemorated the seventh anniversary of the Marikana massacre. We furthered our advocacy work on urban land reform by contributing to the final report by the Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.
We launched four new research reports on Informal Settlements in South Africa and released a mini-documentary and policy brief on sanitation for women with disabilities living in informal settlements.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) in collaboration with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) invites you to a workshop on:
Realising the Right to Work in South Africa
In January 2015 South Africa ratified the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) two decades after it was signed by President Nelson Mandela. In October 2018 the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee), the body that monitors implementation of ICESCR, issued its Concluding Observations to South Africa in response to government’s first report to the Committee.
The Committee’s Concluding Observations were significantly influenced by submissions from civil society organisations and made clear recommendations under the heading “Precarious employment in the formal and informal economies”, including for example:
The workshop will consist of presentations, a panel discussion and a facilitated dialogue with the audience. The purpose of the workshop is to provide information to workers and local government officials about ICESCR and the Committee’s Concluding Observations on the Right to Work; and to provide a space for meaningful engagement between government, civil society, international organisations and affected workers about how the recommendations might be most effectively implemented and utilised for advocacy purposes.
When: Wednesday, 9 October 2019, 9:00-14:00.
Where: Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, 6th floor, Aspern House, 54 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
On Wednesday, 25 September 2019, the Business Day published an op-ed by SERI research intern, Nerishka Singh on the Extension of Security of Tenure Act of 1997 (ESTA) and the security it offers to farm dwellers beyond the protection against unlawful and arbitrary evictions.
“The Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) is known as a legal mechanism to protect farm dwellers from unlawful and arbitrary evictions. The act, however, goes far further than this. Its provisions are designed to protect and promote the dignity of farm dwellers and can be applied to farm dwellers’ daily lives — to protect them from deplorable working and living conditions and from the abuse of power.”
The guide is also accompanied by five information sheets available in English and Afrikaans:
Furthermore, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform conducts Land Rights Awareness Campaign which, among other things, deal with legal representation and mediation services. The department also operates a free call centre service for people on commercial farms who cannot afford to make paid telephone calls when reporting incidents of illegal evictions, land rights violations and other problems related to their security of tenure on farms. Learn more about these services here.