We are delighted to welcome Alana Potter as our new director of research and advocacy!
Alana previously led the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre’s Africa Regional Programme, focussing on influencing sector change at district, national, regional and international levels, strengthening and influencing partnerships, policies and practices within and between government, civil society, users and private providers towards equitable and sustainable water and sanitation services.
She brings 20 years water and sanitation governance, planning, policy, monitoring and evaluation experience, and holds an MA in Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand.
Occupiers of Erven 87 & 88 Berea v De Wet and Another ('Kiribilly') is being heard today in the Constitutional Court. This is an appeal against the High Court’s refusal to rescind an eviction order, purportedly made by consent on 10 September 2013. The rescission application was dismissed in November 2015.
The 184 residents of the Kiribilly block of flats in Berea, Johannesburg, will argue that they did not consent to their eviction, and, even if they did, the right to an inquiry into whether an eviction would be just and equitable in terms of the PIE Act and under section 26 (3) of the Constitution, is not a right that is capable of waiver. That inquiry should have been conducted, and the local authority should have been joined to the proceedings and put on terms to provide alternative accommodation, whether or not actual consent can be established.
SERI's senior researcher, Tim Fish Hodgson, has written a piece in Huffington Post SA on the Fischer case in which the eviction of 60 000 residents of the Marikana informal settlement on the Cape Flats is sought.
The residents are arguing that the state should consider the expropriation of the land upon which they are currently living. In their court papers the City of Cape Town has failed to take this suggestion seriously. The residents will argue that an expropriation would properly balance the owners' property rights and poor people's rights to access to adequate housing. The owners will get compensation for the land that they will lose and residents will no longer have to live in fear of eviction. The City would also then be able to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide the residents with access to elecricity, water, sanitation and waste removal services.
The hearings for the case begin today in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town and will continue until 14 February, coinciding with President Zuma's State of the Nation address in Parliament on Thursday. The op-ed questions the relative importance placed on the President's address and the residents' hearing and suggests that the City of Cape Town, like the President, should act decisively in the fulfilment of its constitutional obligations and provide necessary leadership and direction in this matter.
Today SERI's Director of Research and Advocacy Lauren Royston will be presenting research on spatial justice at the South African Local Government Association's NEC Lekgotla in Cape Town.
The presentation will be based on SERI's "Edged Out" report which was published in December 2016. The report presents evidence of "spatial mismatch" in South African cities. Housing for the poor tends to be located far away from job opportunities. The report provides evidence that South African cities remain characterised by Apartheid spatial injustices which contributes to reproducing unemployment, poverty and inequality.
The report concludes that properly regulated, socially responsible development can help lift people out of poverty. Government must intervene in housing and land markets more proactively to provide well-located and affordable housing for the poor. This will be central to dismantling the “Apartheid city”. For the first time SERI’s research creates a metric by which government and other researchers can measure efforts to achieve spacial justice in cities.
SERI will be appearing in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town tomorrow, representing the approximately 60 000 occupiers of the Marikana informal settlement, located in Phillipi on the Cape Flats.
The owners of the land at the settlement seek either the eviction of the occupiers or an order directing the state to purchase their land at market value, calculated as if it were unoccupied. The occupiers currently live under abject conditions because the City will not provide adequate essential services, such as waste disposal, sanitation and electricity on land that it does not own.
The occupiers will argue that there is no humane and dignified manner in which a settlement of this size can be evicted or relocated. They will ask the Western Cape High Court to grant an order requiring the City to consider the expropriation of the land, and the provision of basic shelter and services on it.
The hearing begins tomorrow and will continue until 14 February 2017.