The third article in the Know Your Constitution campaign was published in the Daily Maverick on 26 November, written by Thapelo Tselapedi and Jackie Dugard. The article argues that first step in creating an active citizenry is information, and that much of the information needed for active citizenship is set out in the Constitution. However, as pointed out in the previous articles that are part of this series, copies of the Constitution are not as widely and freely available as they should be.
On 27 November, an op-ed by Michael Clark and Kate Tissington was published in the Daily Maverick looking at the inner city informal trading crisis and its links with the inner city housing crisis. The op-ed argues that the City of Johannesburg is trying to airbrush the symptoms of poverty and unemployment out of the cityscape rather than acknowledging its obligations and proactively provides for all income groups, on the streets and in their homes.
SERI welcomes the decision to acquit Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who was arrested in March 2013 on charges of obstructing the course of justice after she allegedly blocked police from searching her client’s residence. In April 2013 the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) appointed SERI's executive director Stuart Wilson as an independent trial observer to monitor the criminal proceedings brought against Mtetwa.
On the afternoon of Friday 22 November 2013, Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officials assaulted and arrested a number of informal traders in the inner city of Johannesburg. A female trader from Mozambique, who is currently represented by SERI, witnessed the assaults and was subsequently beaten and arrested. This press statement contains an account of the incident drawn from her statement. She remains anonymous as she will be laying charges against the police and fears being victimised. We refer to her in this press statement as “Belinda”.
This incident starkly shows the physical abuse, bribery and xenophobia present in Operation Clean Sweep.
SERI represents the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and over 1 200 informal traders who were forcibly removed from their trading sites as part of the 'Mayoral Clean Sweep Initiative', undertaken by the City of Johannesburg and JMPD between 30 September and 31 October 2013.
On 19 November, SAITF and the traders launched an urgent application (Part A) for an order stating that the traders are permitted to trade in a manner consistent with sections 9 and 10 of the City’s Informal Trading By-Laws at the locations they occupied immediately before their removal. The urgent application will be heard on 26 November 2013 in the South Gauteng High Court.
SERI has published its 18 Month Annual Review, covering the period February 2012 to July 2013. The review details SERI's research, litigation and advocacy work over the past 18 months, including financial statements for the period.