The first publication, entitled Protection Against Eviction under the Extension of Security of Tenure Act: Legal Rules, Principles and Process, is a user-friendly guide that explains the rights of farm dwellers and the law in relation to evictions from farmland. It gives advice on how farm dwellers can navigate the legal processes involved in eviction proceedings and practically resist evictions. It is a resource for farm dwellers facing eviction from their homes, as well as for farm worker unions, community-based paralegals and lawyers.
The second publication, entitled Abattoir Workers: Unfair Labour Practices and Anti-Union Strategies in Robertson, is the first in SERI's Making a Living Series of community practice notes. It details the struggles of a group of abattoir workers against unfair labour practices in Robertson. The workers were forced to work significant amounts of overtime (much more than the legal limit) and were dismissed when they resisted these unlawful practices. The community practice note documents their struggles to unionise and vindicate their rights in court. It is available in English and Afrikaans.
With the launch of these new publications, SERI hopes to raise awareness of the unfair labour practices faced by many farm workers and expand the number of people who are able to defend themselves against evictions from farmland.
On 21 July SERI filed filed an application for special leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court in the case of Ferguson and Others v Rhodes University.
Last year, SERI acted for students and intervening staff in an application to discharge a wide-ranging interim interdict, which had effectively banned campus-based protest at Rhodes University. The High Court dismissed the University's application for the interdict on 1 December 2016. However, a narrower interdict was granted against three of SERI's clients. The interdict was granted on the basis of disputed facts and the judge's belief that SERI's clients had "associated" themselves with unlawful conduct committed by some of the other protestors. The High Court made this finding on the basis that SERI's clients played a "leadership role" during the protest, this despite the fact that the University never showed that SERI's clients acted in any way to associate themselves with the unlawful acts. The High Court also granted an interdict against SERI's clients for "disrupting" classes and tutorials at the University. The Supreme Court of Appeal refused special leave to appeal the judgment. For this reason, SERI has approached the Constitutional Court for special leave to appeal.
In the papers filed before the Constitutional Court, SERI argues that the High Court's judgment is unconstitutional in that it infringes on the right to protest and the right to freedom of expression. SERI asserts that to hold an individual protestor who has done nothing unlawful liable "by association" for the unlawful acts of others at the same protest would unjustifiably limit the right to protest. SERI argues that this is particularly pertinent in the present case, where the University knows precisely who was responsible for the unlawful actions but, instead of holding those responsible, it has chosen to target SERI's clients who it considers to be the "leaders" of the protest. This, the students claim, is a way of penalising them for partiticpating in the protest.
In relation to the interdict restaining SERI's clients from "disrupting" classes and tutorials, SERI argues that the students' disruptions were non-threatening forms of constitutionally protected expression.
The City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) has moved the residents of Fattis Mansions to a field to the south of the inner city, at gun point.
Despite being ordered to provide alternative accommodation by the High Court on 19 July 2017, the City has still not provided any shelter to the residents, many of whom own their units in Fattis Mansions. The residents and their furniture have been dumped in a field outside the Wemmer building, which houses City-run rental accommodation. The Wemmer building is full, however, and is not able to accommodate any of the residents. The residents are sitting on the ground with their furniture.
The High Court has ordered the City of Johannesburg to accommodate 257 men, women and children who were yesterday evicted from Fattis Mansions at 66 Harrison Street, Johannesburg.
The residents of the property initially asked the High Court at an urgent hearing convened yesterday at 7pm, to return them to Fattis Mansions so that they could challenge the eviction order granted against them. Justice van der Linde ordered the City to accommodate the residents overnight while he considered his judgment. The City did not comply with that order, and residents spent the night out in the cold.
This morning Justice van der Linde refused to restore the residents to Fattis Mansions, on the basis that the property is not safe for occupation. The Judge nonetheless directed the City to provide the residents with emergency accommodation immediately, and more durable temporary accommodation within a week.
As of 3pm on 20 July 2017, the City had not complied with either of his orders, both of which required the City to act immediately to accommodate the residents.
Today SERI launches a new set of legal and practical guidelines on relocation to alternative accommodation, entitled Relocation to Alternative Accommodation: Legal and Practical Guidelines.
Relocations have the potential to severely disrupt peoples’ lives and negatively impact their livelihoods, community relations and sense of security. To make sure this doesn’t happen, the relocation process should be carefully planned, well-run and participatory.
SERI developed this set of guidelines to assist those involved in the relocation process to navigate the complexities involved in planning for and carrying out a relocation. The guidelines present an approach to relocations based on SERI’s experience in planning and managing relocations to alternative housing and draw on international and local experience. The guidelines offer practical guidance on how to ensure that relocations are carried out in a way that respects the constitutional rights of the people being relocated.