Marikana housing and land rights activist, Napoleon Webster, was released on bail on Friday, 28 July, after having spent over six months in jail. Webster will brief the press on his detention, the charges against him and concerns about the politicisation of the police and the criminal justice system.
Joining the press conference will be, Lindokuhle Mdabe (attorney at SERI), Nomzamo Zondo (SERI’s director of litigation), and Bishop Johannes Seoka (representative of the survivors of the Marikana massacre). The press conference will take place on Wednesday, 2 August from 12:30 to 14:00 at SERI’s Conference Room on the 6th floor of Aspern House, 54 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
On 28 July 2017, the Durban High Court granted the shackdwellers social movement, Abalhlali baseMjondolo (AbM), an interim interdict against the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. The interdict restrains the municipality and its land invasion unit from continuing with violent and illegal evictions. In fact, the judgment interdicts the City from demolishing, burning, removing or otherwise destroying and disposing of Abahlali housing structures or threatening to do so. In addition, those whose homes have been destroyed have been given the right to rebuild them.
According to AbM, at least 241 families were unlawfully and often violently made homeless between February and July this year.
Marikana housing and land rights activist, Napoleon Webster, is set to be released on bail on Friday after having spent more than six months in jail. Webster was arrested for his alleged participation in the murder of a local ward councillor. Webster believes the charges are politically motivated because of his community campaigns in Marikana. At the time of his release, he would have spent 202 days in Rustenberg prison.
There is strong evidence that Webster was arrested because of his activism and not on the basis of any reasonable suspicion that he has committed any offence. He is a vocal opponent of the African National Congress (ANC) and is closely associated with Black First Land First and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). He has been active in supporting the victims of the Marikana massacre and was a consistent presence at the proceedings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.
On Thursday 27 July, the North West High Court ordered Webster's release on bail pending his trial. SERI represented Webster during the bail proceedings.
Today the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN), a network of non-profit organisations that aims to share knowledge and collectively promote accoutable and democratic local governance, publishes its annual publication on the state of local government in South Africa. The current issue, entitled Navigating Accountability and Collaboration in Local Governance, allows member organisations to reflect on the importance of accountability and collaboration as key values that drive the reclaiming of local democratic spaces. SERI has been a long standing member organisation of the network and contributed to the publication.
SERI's contribution, written by SERI researchers Edward Molopi and Tiffany Ebrahim, is entitled "Spatial Justice: Accountability through Collaboration and Confrontation". The chapter reflects on SERI's work to improve social and spatial justice through a combination of confrontational, cooperative and complementary strategies. It discusses different methods of engaging the state in order to advance accountability through the lens of a “4C” (Confrontational, Complementary, Cooperative and Co-opted) model. It then sets out examples of SERI's use of different methods: the Chung Hua Mansions case as an example of a confrontational method; the application of the findings of SERI's Edged Out research report as a complementary method, and SERI’s Submission on the City of Johannesburg’s Special Process for the Relocation of Evictees (SPRE) as a cooperative method. The chapter concludes with some thoughts on lessons learnt, and the implications and risks of these approaches.
Between 24 and 26 July 2017, SERI will be participating in the seventh annual Public Interest Law Gathering (PILG) which will be held at the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape. The event brings together public interest legal practitioners and organisations, law students, community-based paralegals, social movement leaders and legal academics from across South Africa.
Several SERI staff members are involved in presenting, facilitating or organising panels at the gathering around a wide variety of topics including panels on regulating and enabling disruptive protest, urban land justice, how the public interest legal services sector should deal with increased demand for legal services, racial and gender transformation in the public interest legal services sector and which sphere of government to hold accountable for access to basic services.
SERI staff involved in the event include Alana Potter, Dasantha Pillay, Tiffany Ebrahim, Nomzamo Zondo and Thulani Nkosi.