This weekend's Mail & Guardian reports on RDP houses in Johannesburg's East Read that are being sold illegally.
The article makes mention of the Winnie Mandela case in which SERI represents 133 residents of the Winnie Mandela informal settlement, located in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality. The residents have lived in shacks at the settlement without sufficient access to basic services since 1994.
On behalf of the Ekurhuleni Concerned Residents Association, SERI has approached the North Gauteng High Court, seeking an order requiring the muncipality and provincial government to take the necessary steps to grant the residents title to the land and upgrade the residents’ housing in terms of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme or provide them with housing opportunities in developments that are close to Winnie Mandela.The case will be heard on 22 May 2017.
SERI senior researcher Tim Fish Hodgson has reviewed recent Constitutional Court judgments regarding the rights of farm dweller. The piece, published in Africa is a Country, argues that recent judgments by the Court
"make it categorically clear that white farmers’ property rights need to be better balanced with black workers rights to dignity, housing and security of tenure. It accepts the vulnerability of black women to evictions despite protective laws noting they are “susceptible to untold mistreatment.” These are important reaffirmations by the court that it will not stand in the way of any efforts to redouble commitment to redistribution of land and wealth. This is of course, if politicians of various loyalties are indeed committed to “radical economic transformation” and claims of “economic freedom.” It invites us to question whether the constitution and judiciary are convenient scapegoats rather than obstructions to transformation as is now so often suggested."
The mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, this weekend suggested that human rights lawyers are responsible for the living conditions in Johannesburg's inner city, and that human rights lawyers are "being paid from proceeds of human & drug trafficking."
SERI's Stuart Wilson has responded to the allegations in an interview with HuffPost South Africa.
The Johannesburg High Court today set aside an eviction order granted against 84 men, women and children living at 8 O’Reilly Street, Hillbrow in Johannesburg’s inner city. The Court held that the eviction order should not have been made without the City of Johannesburg (“the City”) being part of the proceedings. The City is obliged to ensure that the eviction of the community would not result in homelessness.
The High Court was considering the residents’ appeal against an order evicting them from their homes made by Justice Victor in 2014. The residents attended court in person to oppose the eviction, and said in their affidavits that the City should be joined to the proceedings to help resolve the eviction case. Justice Victor held that the residents had failed to specify what role the City should play in the case. Justice Victor refused to join the City, and evicted the residents.
On appeal, Justice Francis, with whom Justice Nicholls and Justice Makhanya agreed, held that Justice Victor erred in failing to join the City to the proceedings, because there were indications on the papers submitted by the property owner that the eviction might trigger the City’s obligations to provide temporary shelter to the residents. That being so, Justice Victor should have joined the City and ordered it to submit a report setting out the steps it would take to stop the residents from becoming homeless on eviction. Justice Francis upheld the residents’ appeal, set aside the eviction order, joined the City to the proceedings and directed it to file a report on the occupiers and their circumstances within 30 days.
SERI's Dennis Webster will today participate on a round table at the Experimenting / Experiencing the City dialogue taking place this week at Wits University. The round table will focus on street trading, and consider what the “just” governance of street trading might look like in Johannesburg.