Today the families of 36 of the deceased miners killed at Marikana and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), who are represented by SERI, filed their Heads of Argument in the Magidiwana & Other Injured and Arrested Persons v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others. The families and AMCU provisionally withdrew from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry on 16 July 2013 in solidarity with the arrested and injured miners when the miners were denied state funding for their representation at the Commission. The families and AMCU then became party to the legal proceedings to secure this funding as they believed the legitimacy of the Commission was dependant on the participation of the injured and arrested miners. 

On 14 October 2013, the North Gauteng High Court ordered Legal Aid SA to fund the legal representation of the arrested and injured miners at the Marikana Commission finding that Legal Aid’s decision to fund the legal representation of the families and not the miners “cannot be justified on any rational basis” and refusal to provide funding to the miners was unlawful. As a result, the families and AMCU returned to the Commission.

On 4 November 2013, Legal Aid SA applied for leave to appeal the High Court's funding decision. In their Heads of Argument, the families and AMCU argue that the appeal should be dismissed and the High Court decision upheld. The families and AMCU argue that there is no rational justification to distinguish between funding the legal representation of the families and the injured and arrested miners as both groups have a "substantial, proximate and material interest" in the outcome and findings of the Commission. A failure to fund the injured and arrested miners would be irrational and infringe the constitutional right to euality. The families and AMCU argue that Legal Aid SA's claim that funding the legal representation of the injured and arrested miners would impact severely on its financial resources was unfounded as it does not claim that it has insufficient resources to fund the injuerd and arrested miners' representation.

The matter will be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal on 8 September 2014.

  • Heads of argument of the families and AMCU in the Supreme Court of Appeal (16 July 2014) here.
  • Read more about the case here.

On 15 July 2014, SERI's excutive director Stuart Wilson published an opinion piece on evictions in South Africa on the online news platform, the Daily Maverick.

The piece debunks the myth that evictions are rare and highlights the state's failure to comply with its constitutional obligations. In addressing these issues, the op-ed draws on a number of recent high-profile evictions and two cases before the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court, namely Fischer and City of Cape Town v Ramahlele and 46 Others ('Fischer') and Zulu and 389 Others v eThekwini Municipality and Others('Zulu'). Both of these cases relate to instances where the state has attempted to circumvent the protections enshrined in the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998. Stuart Wilson criticises this move writing "the role of the state is to implement the Constitution in both letter and spirit; not to devise ever more elaborate strategies to defeat its objects. To do otherwise is to let the clear and strong principles of our Constitution fall away, and to entrench a mean, evasive approach to the state’s obligations that can seem to the poor as cold as the winter weather they now endure."

Informal tradersOn 1 July 2014, SERI published a 2-page pamphlet entitled Protecting the Rights of Informal Traders: What process must municipalities follow if they want to restrict or prohibit informal trading in an area?

The pamphlet explains the process that a municipality must follow to legally prohibit informal trade in an area, or to relocate informal traders. It outlines what a municipality can do in terms of the Businesses Act 71 of 1991, what the process is that a municipality must follow to restrict or prohibit informal trade in an area in terms of section 6A(2) of the Businesses Act, and what can be done to stop the restriction or prohibition of trading in an area.

The pamphlet was developed in light of a recent decision by the City of Johannesburg's City Council to embark on a process of engagement to declare certain trading areas in the inner city of Johannesburg prohibited. The pamphlet aims to clarify the legal process that a municipality should follow in order to prohibit or restrict informal trade in an area, and, in doing so, seeks to ensure that municipalities follow the law and that those who might be negatively affected are given a chance to participate and articulate their position.

  • The 2-page pamphlet can be downloaded here and should ideally be printed and folded.

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.

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