Today the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and 1 500 informal traders sent a letter to the City of Johannesburg and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) demanding that they be permitted to return to trading in the inner city. SAITF and the traders intend to bring an application to the Johannesburg High Court to review the decision to forcibly remove them and thousands of other traders under the auspices of the City’s ‘Operation Clean Sweep.’
The informal traders have notified the City that the removal of traders and impoundment of goods during Operation Clean Sweep was unlawful and infringed their constitutional rights. The traders intend to have the decision to implement Operation Clean Sweep reviewed and set aside in court. Pending the institution of legal proceedings, they demand that the City and JMPD permit them to return to trading at the locations they occupied prior to their removal. They should be allowed to re-erect the stands that were removed by the City and JMPD. The latter must refrain from any further removal of informal traders.
SERI notes with concern the sustained crack-down on informal traders that has taken place since 10 October under the auspices of a "clean up" initiative of the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg. Since this date, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), in conjunction with officials from the South African Revenue Services (SARS), have conducted raids in the inner city. During these operations, officials forced thousands of informal traders to vacate their trading posts and prevented them from trading by threatening them, demolishing their stalls, confiscating and impounding goods (without following legally prescribed procedures such as setting up inventories of goods confiscated) and physically assaulting informal traders (including reports of informal traders being beaten with sticks and whipped).
The operation underway is in no way a "clean up" of the inner city and does not comply with the City's existing economic, spatial or urban management policies or by-laws. The City has regularly indicated that it recognises informal trade as a key economic activity which creates livelihood opportunities.
SERI welcomes Legal Aid SA’s announcement that it will fund the legal representation of the arrested and injured miners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, even if it decides ultimately to seek to appeal the High Court judgment on certain matters of principle concerning the scope of its mandate.
On 14 October 2013, the Pretoria High Court ordered Legal Aid SA to fund the legal representation of the miners. The Court found that Legal Aid SA’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.
On 14 October 2013, the Pretoria High Court ordered Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid) to fund the legal representation of the arrested and injured miners at the Marikana Commission. The court recommended to Legal Aid that that the miners’ current legal team – consisting of two counsel and a firm of attorneys – be maintained. The court found 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.
SERI welcomes the judgment, and wishes to confirm that lawyers for the families of the deceased miners and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) will continue to participate in the Marikana Commission’s proceedings from 15 October 2013.
On 11 October 2013, SERI hosted Courtenay Griffiths QC at our monthly SERI seminar. Griffiths spoke to SERI staff members about his experiences at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, his views on the current system of international criminal justice, and his support for the African Union's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).