SERI's Executive Director, Stuart Wilson will, on Tuesday, give a public lecture on property law reform in South Africa. The presentation will take place at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in London.
[MEDIA] City of Johannesburg not building enough alternative accommodation units (15 June 2017).
In this article, the Mail and Guardian considers the lack of alternative accommodation units in Johannesburg's inner city and reveal that the City is hopelessly underprepared to house the people that will be displaced as a result of evictions. SERI calls for an expansion in shelter facilities for people evicted from their homes and a programme of subsidised public rental housing for the poor. Inner city regeneration doesn’t work unless it works for everyone
Read the full article here
The Western Cape High Court will today hear a challenge of the constitutionality of the Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993 (“Gatherings Act”) in an appeal against the judgment of a magistrates’ court.
The matter arises as a result of a protest by members and supporters of the Social Justice Coalition outside the offices of the City of Cape Town (the City) Mayor, Ms Patricia de Lille, on 11 September 2013. Their grievances related to issues of poor sanitation for communities after lengthy engagements with the City. SERI represents the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the matter. The Special Rapporteur has been admitted as amicus curiae.
The protesters, among other things, chained themselves to the railings at the City’s Civic Centre. Upon police intervention, 21 protesters were arrested and charged under section 12(1)(a) of the) for unlawfully and intentionally convening a gathering without providing the relevant municipal authority with any notice that the gathering would take place. In the alternative to the main charge, the accused were charged under section 12(1)(e) of the Gatherings Act for unlawfully and intentionally attending a gathering without notice and the required permission from the relevant authority.
The court will consider whether section 12(1)(a) of the Gatherings Act is unconstitutional for criminalizing conveners of an assembly of over 15 people if prior notice was not provided. SERI will urge the court to have regard to international law, standards and principles when considering the constitutionality of section 12(1)(a), and argue that holding organisers criminally liable for not providing notification or an inadequate notification is a restriction to the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, which then must conform to international law, standards and principles. SERI will also argue that the number 16, as the only factor for when notice must be provided, is arbitrary and not proportionate.
The Constitutional Court today set aside the eviction of 184 residents of Kiribilly, a block of flats in Berea in Johannesburg’s inner city.
The judgment held that evictions that lead to homelessness are unlawful, even if they are agreed to by all of the residents who stand to be evicted. Further, judges must make sure that people under threat of eviction are properly informed of their rights to contest eviction proceedings and claim alternative accommodation. In addition, judges must proactively investigate the circumstances of all residents in order to properly assess the impact that an eviction will have on their lives and living circumstances.
The Court’s unanimous decision, written by Justice Mojapelo emphasised “the fundamental importance that a person’s home has to the realisation of almost all human rights”. Even where it seems a person has agreed to be evicted, a court is not permitted to order that eviction unless it is made aware of all the relevant circumstances, and is sure that no-one will be left homeless.
SERI's second newsletter of the year is out! The June 2017 edition covers, amongst others, our new resource guide for informal traders, advocacy for justice for the Marikana massacre, and some of the litigation we have done in support of communities facing evcition in Johannesburg's inner city, and against unfair dismissals of Western Cape farm workers.