On 29 December 2014 judgment was handed down in the Mokebe case, in which the Boksburg Magistrate Court dismissed the eviction application against SERI's client.
SERI became involved in the case after Ms Mokebe, a single mother of two children, was evicted from her home by her landlord in 2010. Ms Mokebe's landlord claimed that she left the property voluntarily because he offered her alternative accommodation. SERI, on behalf of Ms Mokebe, argued that she had been intimidated into leaving her home by her landlord, who used his position as a police officer and his service firearm to intimidate her. The Magistrate agreed with SERI's submissions and in 2011 granted an order restoring Ms Mokebe to her home, interdicting and restraining her landlord from evicting her again without a court order.
The landlord subsequently applied for an eviction order, heard in the Boksburg Magistrate Court in August 2014. In a written judgment the Magistrate found that the landlord had failed to prove that the lease agreement was terminated and therefore Ms Mokebe is not an unlawful occupier as defined by the PIE Act.
The Constitutional Court Review (CCR) is an annual international journal that tracks the work of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. In 2014 the fifth edition of the CCR was published by Juta Law. SERI's executive director Stuart Wilson and senior researcher Jackie Dugard both contributed articles on the Blue Moonlight case to the publication.
In November 2014 the City of Johannesburg petitioned the SCA for leave to appeal the Dladla judgment of Wepener J, handed down in the South Gauteng Court in August 2014. The court found that the City's day-time lockout rule at the Ekuthuleni shelter (alternative accommodation provided by the City in the Blue Moonlight case) is an unjustifiable infringement of the residents' constitutional rights to dignity, freedom and security of person, and privacy. The court also found that the City's refusal to permit the residents to reside in communal rooms together with their spouses or permanent life partners is an infringement of their constitutional rights to dignity and privacy.
The City's appeal to the SCA comes after its application for leave to appeal in the High Court was dismissed with costs on in October 2014. The answering papers by residents of the Ekuthuleni shelter are due on 28 January 2015.
On 1 December GroundUp published an article entitled "Eviction by the back door" detailing the current spate of interdicts being sought by municipalities and provincial government against informal occupiers, including at the Marikana settlement in Philippi in Cape Town. SERI represents occupiers in the Fischer case, which is referred to in the article. On 27 November the Western Cape High Court handed down an order protecting the original residents of the settlement from being removed, while interdicting newcomers from erecting further shacks.
According to a resident of the settlement, "We welcome this, because now we do not have to fear anymore. The evictions were very painful to the community, and many of us lost our furniture and building material, so this is a relief."
SERI's executive director Stuart Wilson has published a thought-provoking op-ed in the Daily Maverick on the implications of the Marikana massacre on some key features of the post-apartheid political settlement.
"Marikana is a warning. If South Africa continues along its current economic path, then dissent against, rather than participation in, current political and social arrangements will only become more frequent. If the response to that dissent is violent political repression, then Marikana may not be the last we see of state-sponsored killing at scale. Both our attitude to inequality, and our attitude to dissent, have to change."