The residents of 8 O’Reilly Street, Hillbrow's appeal in Ingelosi House will be heard before a full bench of the Gauteng High Court today.
SERI acts for the residents in their appeal against an eviction order granted in the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court on 28 May 2014. An eviction order was granted against the long-standing residents in favour of the new owner, Ingelosi House (Pty) Ltd, despite the City of Johannesburg not having been joined to proceedings and regardless of the fact that the residents are poor and will be rendered homeless by an eviction. The eviction order was granted in opposed court with about eight of the residents present, but unrepresented.
The Judge questioned five of the residents, who all confirmed that they required time to raise money for a lawyer and to put together a defence. They explained that the affidavit, filed purportedly on their behalf, was filed without their knowledge. The Judge did not consider the personal circumstances of the residents or whether an eviction order would be just and equitable in the circumstances.
The latest edition of Finweek has run a piece outlining how the informal economy in general, and street traders in particular, are still ignored by local governments and the private sector. Despite contributing 8% of South Africa's GDP and supporting 27% of all working people, the informal economy is not supported.
The South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF), quoted in the piece, says it best: “We have learnt that street trading is not supported in SA, and our government is doing everything to make sure that street trading is done away with, especially in the big cities. This is the only sector that has been ignored since the dawn of democracy in our country, as there are no specific programmes meant to upskill informal traders.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Administrative Justice research project (SERAJ) at Stellenbosch University last week hosted Stuart Wilson and Dr Julian Brown for a seminar entitled Socio-Economic Struggles In and Out of the Courtroom. The seminar was attended by undergraduate students, postgraduate LLM and LLD students, as well as staff of the Law Faculty.
In their presentation Brown and Wilson examined the interrelationship between popular protest and mobilisation and courtroom litigation in socio-economic rights cases, with a focus on SERI's cases. They explored the interaction between legal and extra-legal strategies, providing valuable insight on litigation strategies and ground-up approaches to socio-economic rights challenges.
SERI has today filed an application for special leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Rhodes.
SERI acted for students and intervening staff last year in an application to discharge a wide-ranging interim interdict, which had effectively banned campus-based protest at Rhodes University.The High Court dismissed Rhodes' application for the interdict on 1 December 2016.
A narrower interdict was, however, granted against three of SERI's clients. The interdict was granted on the basis of disputed facts or abandoned factual allegations, and substantially for the reason that, in the judge's view, SERI's clients had associated themselves with allegedly unlawful conduct committed by groups of other protestors. No particular acts of association were identified, however, other than the fact that SERI's clients played “a leadership role” in the protest.
Those aspects of the judgment create the spectre of individual protestors being held liable for the acts of other members of a group, is at odds with previous Constitutional Court decisions, and will have a chilling effect on the exercise of the right to protest.
The High Court refused leave to appeal. SERI has approached the SCA for special leave to appeal as a result.
SERI extends its warmest congratulations to Ofentse Motlhasedi, who joined the organisation in January 2016 as a litigation fellow, and has today been admitted as an advocate of the High Court.