In April 2019, the Nelson Mandela Foundation commissioned a series of papers on urban land reform. Their aim was to inform debate about and propose a feasible approach to urban land reform which could, in the near future, be implemented. In line with this, SERI authored two papers on urban land reform and urban land redistribution. SERI has recently published summary reports of the papers submitted to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and will be published at a later stage.

The paper on urban land reform adopts Section 25(6)2 and Sections 26 (1), (2) and (3)3 of the Constitution as its starting points. Shortly after the Constitution was enacted, a set of tenure security laws were enacted to give immediate effect to Section 25(6), pending the development of legislation providing permanent, positive rights.4 The Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (the PIE Act), which gave effect to section 26(3), is one of these laws. The long-term legislation has not yet been developed.

 The paper on urban land redistribution adopts the redistribution clause in section 25 (5) of the Constitution as its starting point: “the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.” On this basis SERI argues, in line with the Presidential Advisory Panel and High-Level Panel reports, that a law should be developed and enacted which gives effect to section 25(5) and that the in order to operationalise the approach we propose a process for fine-tuning urban equitable access principles, the main legislative measure (the Framework Act) and the policy measures (the various programmes). 

  • Download the summary report on urban land reform here
  • Download the summary report on urban land redistribution here.
  • Read a SERI op-ed with recommendations for a possible urban land reform programme here.


Urban Land PaperScreenshot 2020 04 09 at 17.20.25   Urban Land Paper 2

In light of the COVID-19 announcement by President Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020. Our offices will be closed from 24 March 2020.

However, we will still be providing a service to all our existing clients and those who are approaching our offices for the first time.

Ngenxa yesimemezelo sikaMongameli Cyril Ramaphosa ngomhlaka 23 March 2020, amahhovisi eSERI avaliwe.

Kepha, yonke imisebenzi yeSeri izoqhubeka. Sizoqhubeka sisebenzisane namakhasimende ethu kanye nalabo abaqalayo ukuxhumana nathi.

 SERI COVID 19 poster English  SERI COVID 19 poster isiZulu

KBhengu SABCNews Raids3On Wednesday 18 March 2020, SERI attorney Khululiwe Bhengu joined Sakina Kamwendo on SABC News to discuss the raids case that is currently before the High Court. 

Khulululiwe discussed why the 2,852 inner-city residents that SERI represents are challenging the constitutionality of section 13(7) of the South African Police Services Act which was used as the legal basis for conducting 18 of the 20 warrantless raids that were conducted between 30 June 2017 and 3 May 2018. The other two raids were conducted with no authorisation at all.

During the raids, which were jointly conducted by the South African Police Services (SAPS), the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), the Department of Home Affairs and the City of Johannesburg, officials forced residents out of the buildings and onto the streets (often in the middle of the night while residents were only partially clothed), where they were searched, finger-printed and commanded to produce copies of their identity documents, passports or asylum seekers’ permits. Anyone who was unable to produce their identity documents was detained. 

Khululiwe explained that the section should be declared unconstitutional because it allowed for the violation of the residents' rights to privacy and dignity. She highlighted that the Constitutional Court has, in various matters, consistently ruled against the use of warrantless searches because of their violation of these constitutional rights.

Khululiwe also explained how the act was used to bypass existing pieces of legislation such as the Immigration Act and the Criminal Procedure Act.

  • Watch the full interview here.
  • Read more about the case here.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institue of South Africa (SERI) is looking to appoint a senior researcher and two candidate attorneys to join its offices in Johannesburg. 

Senior Researcher

Reporting to the Director of Research and Advocacy, the Senior Researcher will be expected to help develop and implement a wide-ranging research programme.


  • At least an MA in a humanities or social science-related discipline; 
  • Minimum five years’ experience in social research design, implementation and publication;
  • Excellent writing skills and a publication record; 
  • Fundraising experience;
  • Proven ability to apply local legal and policy frameworks and international human rights-based frameworks to social research and various forms of advocacy;
  • Ability to co-ordinate and manage research and advocacy projects and team members;
  • A record of interest in and engagement with any area of work in which SERI is active; and
  • Fluency in any of South Africa’s indigenous languages.

To apply, submit your CV, two unedited samples of recent written work, together with a covering letter, to Princess Nkuna at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  quoting the position in your covering letter. Applications to be submitted by 15 April 2020.  

  • View the full advertisement here.


Candidate Attorneys

SERI is authorised by the Legal Practice Council to accept and train CAs. CAs are recruited for a fixed-term of two years, leading to qualification and admission as an Attorney. The requirements for the positions are as follows -


  • LLB Degree.
  • Interest in and, some prior engagement with, human rights law or litigation.


  • Interest in, and experience of, research and publication.
  • Fluency in any of South Africa’s indigenous languages.

SERI wishes to contribute to the development of a new generation of human rights lawyers at the national and international level. Accordingly, the positions carry with them significant opportunities for international travel and continuing professional training and development.

If you are interested in either of these posts, please send a CV, together with a covering letter to Princess Nkuna at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The closing date for applications is Wednesday 15 April 2020. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted, and will be expected to make themselves available for interview in May or June 2020.

  • View the full advertisement here.

High CourtOn Monday, 16 March 2020, the residents of 11 buildings in inner-city Johannesburg, represented by SERI, appeared in front of the full bench of the High Court in Johannesburg to challenge the lawfulness and constitutionality of over 20 police raids of their homes. The raids were conducted between 30 June 2017 and 3 May 2018 in terms of section 13 (7) of the South African Police Services (SAPS) Act while two of the raids were conducted without any legal authority at all. 

In several raids, as many as 80 officials from the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Johannesburg metropolitan police department (JMPD), the department of home affairs and the City of Johannesburg made their way to the buildings. They forced the residents out of the buildings and onto the streets, sometimes in their nightdresses, where they were searched, finger-printed and commanded to produce copies of their identity documents, passports or asylum seekers’ permits. Inside the buildings, the police left the residents’ homes in disarray. They broke down doors and partitions, damaged furniture and even stole valuable items and small amounts of cash.

The residents challenged the constitutionality of section 13(7) insofar as it allows for a person’s home to be searched without a warrant issued by a court. They further claimed compensation for the breach of their rights to privacy contained in section 14 of the South African Constitution.

Judge President Mlambo reserved judgment in the matter.

  • Read more about the case and find all the papers here.
  • Download the SERI press statement on the case here.
  • Read an op-ed by SERI's Thato Masiangoako here.
  • Read an article published by The Star here

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