Yvonne joins us as a senior researcher. Prior to this she worked as an independent research consultant and senior researcher at the University of Johannesburg’s Africa Centre for Evidence. She holds an interdisciplinary social science PhD from St George’s, University of London, a MA in Development Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand, a BA Honours in Development Studies and a BA in Political Sciences both from RAU (now University of Johannesburg). She has expertise in research and evidence synthesis for decision-making and has worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders on research uptake. Her multi-disciplinary training and research methods background has led her to work across social topics such as women’s economic empowerment, poverty and the environment, race and identity, gender and development, sexual and reproductive health, and inner city housing.
Amanda joins us as a litigation fellow. She holds a Master of Laws (LLM) and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She served her articles of clerkship with SERI before joining the South African Human Rights Commission as an advocacy and research officer. Amanda has an interest in human rights law. Her passion lies in protecting the rights of indigent members of the South African society and using the law as a tool to bring about social change.
Tebogo joins us as a research intern. She holds a BA Law and Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Human rights Advocacy and Litigation at the same university. Tebogo previously served a legal internship with Lawyers for Human Rights at the Refugee and Migrants unit. At university, she served as the community outreach co-ordinator for Students for Law and Social Justice. She has further volunteered as student assistance and Graduate Recruitment Programme Ambassador for the Counseling, Careers and Development Unit at Wits University. Tebogo was also selected by the Gauteng South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges to be a mentee in the organisation. Tebogo has interests in community development, advancing the rights of marginalised communities and using the law as a conduit for socio-economic change in South Africa.
On Sunday, 16 August 2020, will mark the 8th anniversary of the Marikana massacre. Each year has passed without justice for the mineworkers and their families. Since 2012, only nine police officers have been prosecuted for the deaths of three striking mineworkers and two police officers. However, the National Prosecuting Authority, has failed to prosecute anyone for the deaths of the 34 mineworkers who were shot and killed by the police on 16 August 2012.
A lack of political will to deliver any form of justice to the families is evidenced by the failure to prosecute those responsible. In addition, the government has yet to release the report by the Panel of Experts on Policing and Crowd Management which was completed in 2018. While the families of the mineworkers continue to wait for justice, excessive use of force and brutality by the police persists. Poor leadership and weak levels of police accountability have contributed to a pervasive culture of impunity within the police. This has had a devastating impact on public confidence in the police.
Locally, during the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown South Africa witnessed heavy-handed enforcement by various law enforcement bodies, including the Anti-Land Invasion Unit and other private security bodies resulting in violations of dignity, physical injury, and death. Globally, the Black Lives Matter movement, following the brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States, has further thrown the spotlight on instances of police impunity.
Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa described Marikana as “the darkest moment in the life of our young democracy”. However, with the families of the miners and other victims of police violence waiting for those responsible to be held accountable, South Africa has never emerged from that dark moment. According to complaints lodged with IPID against the South African Police Service between April 2012 and March 2019, on average, the police have killed one person every day.
The cost of violent policing and lack of accountability continues to be paid by the families in their continued suffering. Government and the police have demonstrably failed to heed any of the lessons from Marikana. They have failed to implement any measures to restrain the use of force by the police and to see to it that officers who work outside of the confines of the law and international best principles are held accountable.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) and the C-19 People’s Coalition Anti-Repression Working Group
invite you to a People’s Assembly webinar in commemoration of the 8th anniversary of the Marikana massacre
The 16th of August 2020 will mark the eighth anniversary of the Marikana massacre. Each passing year is another without justice for the mineworkers and their families. This is evidenced by the lack of prosecutions of those responsible, and the failure of the government to release the report by the Panel of Experts on Policing and Crowd Management which was completed in 2018.
While the Marikana families wait for justice, the pattern of police brutality and impunity persists in South Africa and elsewhere. Locally, during the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown South Africa witnessed heavy-handed enforcement by various law enforcement bodies, including the Anti-Land Invasion Unit and other private security bodies resulting in violations of dignity, physical injury, and death. Globally, the Black Lives Matter movement, following the brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States, has further thrown the spotlight on instances of police impunity.
The webinar aims to draw connections between past and present examples of excessive force by the police and other law enforcement agencies. It will do so through contributions from those who have been directly affected by police violence as well as those who were intimately involved in the post-Marikana Panel of Experts on Policing and Crowd Management.
When: Thursday, 13 August 2020, 11:00 – 12:30
Who: Zamantungwa Khumalo (Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa); Nowili Palesa Nungu and Sebolai Liau (Representatives of the miners’ families); S’bu Zikode (Abahlali baseMjondolo); Axolile Nyotwala (Social Justice Coalition); Nomsa Montsha (Collins Khosa’s life partner); Adele Kirsten (Member of the Marikana Panel of Experts on Policing and Crowd Management and member of the Anti-Repression Working Group of the c-19 People’s Coalition).
RSVP: Register for the Zoom webinar here by 12 August 2020.
On Tuesday, 11 August 2020, SERI, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Cities Support Programme launched SERI's latest policy brief focusing on adequate temporary alternative accommodation.
Over 25 years since the advent of democracy in 1994, South Africa remains a country where extreme wealth exists alongside widespread poverty. This inequality is borne disproportionately by black people. It is as a result of South Africa’s historical legacy and current exclusion from the housing market that the state has an obligation to provide alternative accommodation to occupiers who would become homeless if they are evicted. Now more than ever, as residents of inner city buildings and informal settlements experience the magnitude of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we are facing the consequences of inequality.
The law requires that municipalities provide temporary alternative accommodation when evictions lead to homelessness. However, municipalities have been slow to develop proactive alternative accommodation programmes in response to the case law. The accommodation that has been provided, generally compelled by court orders, is insufficient. Management of temporary alternative accommodation has been inadequate and certain models, such as the managed care model, are constitutionally offensive. In addition, the courts have not given content to what constitutes adequate temporary alternative accommodation. This policy brief aims to fill the gap by reviewing evictions law and its implications for municipalities, setting out a proposed approach to municipal provision of alternative accommodation and discussing the need for a national framework.
The webinar reflected on experiences and lessons from current alternative accommodation sites and considered a proposed approach to municipal provision of alternative accommodation.
On Thursday, 6 August 2020, SERI in collaboration with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) published an information sheet on key legal principles in protecting housing and home in South Africa. It explains the meaning of “housing” and “home” and highlights the right to housing in the Constitution and International Law. It further explains what the Constitution and Internal Law say about eviction from homes.
In addition to this, ICJ’s Tim Fish Hodgson wrote a complementary op-ed detailing the protections offered by the law to unlawful occupiers. “Unlawful occupiers of land have constitutional protection regarding their right to housing – because of, and not in spite of, the unlawfulness of their occupation. Local government municipalities that continue with evictions are in violation of Level 3 lockdown restrictions, as well as their broader legal obligations.”, he argues.
The Constitution, consistent with international human rights law, entrenches a right to adequate housing. Section 26 of the Constitution protects the right of access to adequate housing and provides that no one may be evicted from their home without a court order made after considering “all the relevant circumstances”
People in South Africa are often forced to make their homes in structures that are not “houses”. Too many people live on the streets, in makeshift structures we call “shacks”, or in houses which are unsafe, undignified and lack access to basic services like water, electricity and toilets.
People who are commonly described as “homeless” are those who live on the streets. They often have their property unlawfully destroyed, actions which have been condemned as unlawful by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Ngomane v City of Johannesburg. Despite the absence of a legal definition of “home”, “homeless” or “homelessness”, the law acknowledges that having a home and protecting yourself against homelessness is a very important human right central to the protection of human dignity. As the Constitutional Court explained in PE Municipality v Various Occupiers:
“…a home is more than just a shelter from the elements. It is a zone of personal intimacy and family security. Often it will be the only relatively secure space of privacy and tranquility in what (for poor people in particular) is a turbulent and hostile world. Forced removal is a shock for any family, the more so for one that has established itself on a site that has become its familiar habitat.”