The SERI Law Clinic seeks the services of a practicing advocate to fill a vacancy for General Counsel, to commence work on 1 February 2015, or as soon as possible thereafter.

The SERI Law Clinic has a first-rate human rights practice, which encompasses constitutional and administrative law, criminal defence, defamation, labour law, property law, contract law (insofar as it involves consumer protection) and actions against the police and other delictual claims. SERI concentrates its work in South Africa’s townships, informal settlements, the Johannesburg inner city and other poor and marginalised communities. SERI’s practitioners appear regularly at all levels of the courts system, up to and including the Constitutional Court. SERI has an enviable track record in obtaining and enforcing ground-breaking judgments.

Reporting to the Director of Litigation, General Counsel will work alongside SERI’s attorneys across the whole range of SERI work. He or she will appear in court alone or together with a silk and/or more junior counsel in trials, motions and appeals as required.

The closing date for applications is Friday 18 July 2014. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted, and will be expected to make themselves available for interview in August 2014.

  • Read the full job description (including essential and desirable requirements, salary and application process) here.

 

SERI wishes to fill two vacancies for Candidate Attorneys beginning 12 January 2015.

The SERI Law Clinic has a first-rate human rights practice, which encompasses constitutional and administrative law, criminal defence, defamation, labour law, property law, contract law (insofar as it involves consumer protection) and actions against the police and other delictual claims. SERI concentrates its work in South Africa’s townships, informal settlements, the Johannesburg Inner City and other poor and marginalised communities. SERI’s practitioners appear regularly at all levels of the courts system, up to and including the Constitutional Court. SERI has an enviable track record in obtaining and enforcing ground-breaking judgments.

Candidate Attorneys are recruited for a fixed-term of two years, leading to qualification and admission as an Attorney.

The closing date for applications is Friday 18 July 2014. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted, and will be expected to make themselves available for interview in August 2014.

  • Read the full job description (inclluding essential and desirable requirements, salary and application process) here.

On 10 June 2014, over 1 000 occupiers of several inner city Johannesburg buildings issued an application in the Johannesburg High Court, requesting the court to declare that the City of Johannesburg has failed to discharge its obligations, under section 26(2) of the Constitution, to provide temporary accommodation to people facing eviction.

The application is a response to the City’s attempt to get an order suspending nearly 30 pending evictions, because it does not have land or buildings available to provide for people who are evicted. The City claims this inability to provide alternative accommodation is due to it awaiting the outcome of the Dladla matter, in which residents of alternative accommodation provided by the City are challenging the lawfulness of the rules in the accommodation.

Today an illegal eviction was attempted at one of the buildings represented by SERI - Jeanwell Court - by the owner, City officials and JMPD officers. The occupiers of that property were evicted out onto the streets because the City says that their homes are unsafe. These occupiers, who, like thousands of others, live in constant fear of eviction from dilapidated buildings, cannot be expected to wait in limbo for years until it suits the City to come up with a plan for them.

In seeking to suspend all evictions that might require it to provide alternative accommodation, the City wants to suspend its own obligations to provide decent shelter for poor and vulnerable people. This comes after several years in which the City has refused to engage with the occupiers on their needs and circumstances, or plan and budget for providing accommodation. The City has adopted an unreasonable, inflexible attitude to the occupiers and their circumstances. That, the occupiers will tell the High Court, is unlawful.

In their application, the occupiers are requesting that a detailed process of engagement, investigation and reporting-back to court is undertaken by the City. This would include: implementing revised criteria for determining eligibility for the provision of temporary accommodation; adopting reasonable measures, within available resources, to provide temporary accommodation to the occupiers; and engaging meaningfully, individually and collectively, with each of the occupiers, the owners of the property and their legal representatives in order to determine their individual circumstances and the extent to which the City’s managed care policy should be applied to them.

The occupiers want the City to file a report showing the steps it has taken to engage with the occupiers and owners on the provision of temporary accommodation; the terms and conditions under which the occupiers are to be accommodated; and the nature of the land and/or buildings available (or not) to the City to accommodate the occupiers.

  • Read the full SERI press statement here.
  • Read more on the stay application here.
  • Read more on the Dladla case here.

SERI and Probono.Org hosted a soundboard meeting on the development of guidelines to the implementation of large-scale relocations in eviction cases and instances of voluntary relocation on 6 June 2014 in Johannesburg. The soundboard meeting was attended by representatives from various civil society organisations and legal NGOs and provided an opportunity for SERI to present its draft guidelines to the group. The guidelines draw on the legal principles that govern relocations, as developed through case law, as well as SERI's practical experience in implementing relocations. The guidelines will be published later in 2014.

On 6 June 2014, the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in Zulu and 389 Others v eThekwini Municipality and Others (Zulu). SERI represents Abahlali baseMjondolo (Abahlali) who acted as amicus curiae in the case. The case concerned the interpretation of a court order obtained by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works on 28 March 2013 from the Durban High Court. The order permits the Durban municipality to “prevent any persons from invading and/or occupying and/or undertaking the construction of any structures” on specified land within the municipality’s area of jurisdiction and to “remove any materials placed by any persons upon” that land. The order was used to justify the Cato Crest evictions in 2013.

SERI welcomes the Constitutional Court’s finding that the order amounted to an eviction order, and its finding that the eThekwini Municipality had used the order to evict people. The municipality had argued that the order could not and was not used to evict people, even though the municipality had relied on it to evict the appellants 25 times. The court correctly found this dishonest submission to be “unacceptable”. SERI also welcomes the judgment of van der Westhuizen J, which found that the order was invalid because it was granted in breach of the Constitution.

However, the majority judgment did not pronounce on the lawfulness of the order, and referred the matter back to the High Court for further proceedings. This is unfortunate. The order applies to potentially thousands of people on 1 568 properties. These people are at risk of summary eviction until it is set aside. The municipality has shown that it has no qualms about evicting poor people repeatedly and without warning.

Tashwill Esterhuizen, attorney for Abahlali, the amicus curiae in the case, said: “We welcome the judgment. Our client has always been of the view that the interim order obtained by the MEC amounts to an unlawful eviction order. It's a pity that the majority judgment did not deem it necessary to pronounce on the constitutionality of the interim order. We are in agreement with separate judgment of van der Westhuizen J in which he held that the interim order is unlawful and it violates the residents rights under PIE and section 26(3) of the Constitution. Our client will certainly attack the validity of the order once the matter is referred back to the Durban High Court.”

  • Read the press release here.
  • Read more about the case and find all the papers here.
  • Read the Constitutional Court judgment (6 June 2014) here.

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