On 9 February 2018, SERI researcher, Kelebogile Khunou, gave a presentation on domestic workers' need for adequate housing as part of a housing theory course offered by the the University of the Witwatersrand's School of Architecture and Planning in Johannesburg. Khunou’s presentation considered the housing needs of docmestic workers from a gendered perspective.
Domestic workers represent one of the most vulnerable groups in South African society. There are more than one million domestic workers in South Africa who perform household tasks like cooking, cleaning and taking care of children and the elderly. Many of these workers are subjected to low wages and unfair working conditions. The vast majority of domestic workers in South Africa are women, who face a number of unique chanlleges in relation to housing, tenure security and access to basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation.
In light of these challenges, Khunou concluded that specific measures need to be taken for redress including strategies to ensure greater gender equity. Consideration needs to be made for the specific needs of women (and barriers to entry to women) in the design, financing and implementation of housing programmes. Lastly, special efforts need to be made to meaningfully engage with women who have work and child care responsibilities.
From 12 to 14 February 2018, SERI's director of research and advocacy, Alana Potter, is attending and participating in a national workshop on poverty and inequality hosted by the Mandela Initiative in Cape Town. The workshop brings together government officials, academics, researchers, business leaders and civil society representatives to analyse the current South African political and economic context and develop collaborative strategies on how to advance the goal of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality in South Africa. The workshop aims to reinvigorate the debate on the urgent need for social and economic change and allow those present to critically engage on a number of cross-cutting themes that are linked to poverty and inequality.
In preparation for the national gathering, the Mandela Initiative commissioned a series of briefing papers on cross-cutting themes that contribute to poverty and inequality to inform their draft synthesis report for the workshop. SERI, in collaboration with the African Centre for Cities (ACC), authored the briefing paper on urban land.
On 9 February, SERI filed heads of argument in the High Court in the consolidated matter of Hawerd Nleya v Ingelosi House (Pty) Ltd ('Ingelosi House') and Occupiers of Erven 87 & 88 Berea v De Wet ('Kiribilly') asking the court for a structured order directing the City to make alternative accommodation available to the occupiers of these buildings within six months (and at least one month before any eviction order takes effect).
Both of these eviction applications deal with the City of Johannesburg (the City)'s constitutional obligation to provide alternative accommodation to occupiers who would otherwise be rendered homeless as a result of an eviction. In each matter, the eviction has been postponed to require the City to provide a report about its ability to provide of alternative accommodation to the occupiers. The matters have been remitted to the High Court from the full bench of the High Court and the Constitutional Court, respectively, for a decision on the City's obligation to provide alternative accommodation.
The City claims that is does not have any alternative accommodation available in which it could accommodate the occupiers and states that is needs between one and two years before it will be able to provide alternative accommodation.
SERI argues, on behalf of the occupiers, that:
"[t]he fact that there is currently no accommodation available to house the occupiers does not, in itself, mean that the City cannot be ordered to provide such accommodation. That is exactly what the Constitutional Court did in Blue Moonlight. There, the City stated that it had nothing to provide the occupiers concerned in that matter. The Constitutional Court nonetheless directed that accommodation be provided, and gave the City five months to produce such accommodation. The City ultimately complied with that order, albeit about two weeks late."
The matters will be heard together on 16 April 2018.
SERI researcher, Tiffany Ebrahim is attending the ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) taking place at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) in Malaysia from 7 to 13 February 2018. The World Urban Forum (WUF) is a non-legislative technical forum convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) held since 2002.
The Forum gathers a wide range of experts from every walk of life. Participants of the Forum include, but are not limited to, national, regional and local governments, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, professionals, research institutions and academies, professionals, private sector, development finance institutions, foundations, media and United Nations organizations and other international agencies.
It is recognized as the foremost global arena for interaction among policymakers, local government leaders, non-governmental organizations and expert practitioners in the field of sustainable urban development and human settlements.
This will be the first session to focus on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda adopted in Habitat III in 2016. It will be instrumental to substantively feed into the inputs for the first report of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
On 31 January 2018, SERI attorney, Zamatungwa Khumalo, spoke at an event organised by Amnesty International at the University of the Witwatersrand about students' right to protest. The event was attended by a group of approximately 15 students. Khumalo's presentation dealt with the rights associated with protest and the recent ground-breaking court case in Mlungwana v the State, as well as students' powers to record the activities of police officers and security guards during protest action.
The presentation was on based SERI's recent resource guide, entitled Student Protests: A Legal and Practical Guide (September 2017), which explains students' rights to protest, as well as students' rights when they are arrested, detained or charged with a crime during a protest. The guide also explain what laws and policies say about these rights and what legal protections students have. The guide aims to create awareness of the rights and obligations of those involved in stduent protests to encourage students, university administrators, police and private security guards to respect human rights and mitigate the disproportionate and unlawful use of force. Copies of the guide were distributed at the event.