The Socio-Economic Rights Institue of South Africa (SERI) is looking to appoint a director of litigation, senior attorney/attorney and candidate attorneys to join the SERI Law Clinic. All positions are based at SERI's offices in Braamfontein in Johannesburg.
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 and other poor and marginalised communities. SERI’s practitioners appear regularly at all levels of the court system, up to and including the Constitutional Court. SERI has an enviable track record in obtaining and enforcing ground-breaking judgments. You can find out more about SERI on www.seri-sa.org and www.fightingforaliving.org.
Director of Litigation
Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Litigation will be responsible for shaping and implementing SERI’s litigation strategy across its three themes of work: “Securing a Home”, “Making a Living” and “Expanding Political Space”. The successful candidate will lead a team of attorneys who provide advice and representation to social movements, communities and individuals seeking to enforce their socio-economic rights in a variety of contexts. He or she will also be expected to develop SERI's profile and outreach with communities, media, the government and donors.
We’re looking for someone with the following qualifications, skills and experience -
The appointment will take effect on 1 October 2019.
Senior Attorney/ Attorney
Reporting to the Director of Litigation, the Attorney will be expected to develop a litigation practice across a wide range of work, encompassing trial, motion and appeal work, including criminal, constitutional, administrative, labour, property and delictual matters. The Senior Attorney will, in addition, be expected to mentor, train and act as principal to one or more of SERI’s candidate attorneys, to deputise for the Director of Litigation where necessary, and to share with the Director of Litigation the responsibility of managing SERI’s caseload and its team of attorneys and candidate attorneys.
The requirements for the position are as follows -
Additional Requirements for Appointment as a Senior Attorney
Candidate Attorney (2)
The SERI Law Clinic wishes to fill up to two vacancies for candidate attorneys (CAs).
These vacancies will arise on or after 1 January 2020.
The requirements for the positions are as follows -
The closing date for applications is Friday 28 June 2019. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
SERI is committed to transformation. Black South Africans and women are strongly encouraged to apply.
On Wednesday, 10 April 2019, SERI together with the Inner City Federation (ICF) participated in a discussion on the Right to the City in South Africa with second year anthropology students from the University of the Witwatersrand.
In the discussion, SERI’s Edward Molopi and the ICF’s Siyabonga Mahlangu, drew on the two organisations’ work of challenging the exclusion of poor and marginalised communities in the inner city of Johannesburg and provided the students with an introduction to the work of the two organisations.
SERI’s latest community practice note, Inner City Federation: Fighting for Decent Housing in Inner-City Johannesburg, which examines the strategies and tactics used by poor inner-city residents to resist evictions, harassment and displacement was the required reading for the class and forms part of the course curriculum for the second year anthropology class. The course lecturer, Dr. Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, began with providing context on the Right to the City and the struggle for marginalised communities to access dignified housing in the city of Johannesburg. Wilhelm-Solomon further highlighted the difficult living conditions endured by the majority of impoverished communities within the inner city of Johannesburg and the subsequent legal battles they have undergone in order to receive dignified housing.
Molopi and Mahlangu’s input outlined the collective grievances of occupiers in the inner city against the City of Johannesburg which include the City's failure to provide residents with adequate access to basic services. Mahlangu highlighted the harassment endured by occupiers in the inner city during building raids conducted at the City’s instruction, under the guise of curbing criminal activities and removing undocumented migrants from inner city buildings. Molopi further engaged students on housing rights, state obligations to provide housing and the possibilities of expropriation as a tool to alleviate housing challenges in the city.
On Tuesday, 9 April 2019, SERI litigation fellow Khululiwe Bhengu and researcher Kelebogile Khunou attended the Department of Environmental Affairs’ National Waste Picker Integration Workshop in Pretoria. The workshop was attended by approximately 100 municipal officials, waste pickers, private sector stakeholders and members of civil society. The purpose of the workshop was to increase knowledge about waste pickers and waste picker integration and share the draft National Guidelines on Waste Picker Integration.
The workshop began with speakers from the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA) and the African Reclaimers’ Organisation (ARO), who provided insight into the contribution of waste pickers to South Africa’s waste management and recycling system and highlighted the importance of continued engagement between all stakeholders in the implementation of waste picker integration.
The workshop participants then broke up into groups and discussed specific actions related to implementing waste picker integration like registration of waste pickers in the City of Johannesburg, the process of integration at landfill sites and transformation of the waste management system.
On 4 April 2019, SERI researchers delivered a guest lecture to New Urban Management Masters students studying through the Wits-TUB Urban Lab postgraduate programme for Sub-Saharan Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Architecture and Planning.
SERI’s Maanda Makwarela and Tiffany Ebrahim presented SERI’s litigation, research and advocacy influence on urban management in Johannesburg. They discussed the legacy of apartheid spatial planning in South Africa’s cities and shared policy lessons and implications from informal settlements and Johannesburg’s inner city.
Read more about SERI’s work in spatial inequality here.
SERI represents a community of approximately 60,000 people living in Marikana informal settlement in opposition of an application for eviction.
On 30 August 2017, the Western Cape High Court dismissed an application to evict the community. The Court found that the City had infringed the constitutional property rights of the owners of the Marikana land, and had also breached the housing rights of the Marikana residents by its unreasonable failure to do anything to secure the tenure of the Marikana residents. In its judgment, the Court directed the City to initiate the process provided for in terms of section 9(3) of the Housing Act, by entering into good faith negotiations to purchase the Marikana land, and expropriating the land in the event that purchase negotiations failed. The property owners, the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Minister launched a consolidated appeal against the High Court judgment.
On 8 April 2019, SERI, on behalf of the occupiers, filed heads of argument in the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA), arguing that the High Court correctly identified the standard expected of the state in responding to land occupations of this nature which require the state to respond reasonably to an occupation and that the only legal basis on which the state parties to this case can take steps to acquire the properties on which the occupiers reside is to exercise the City’s powers under section 9(3) of the Housing Act. SERI further argued that the appeals brought by the City, the Provincial Minister for Human Settlements, and the property owners should be dismissed.
SERI is opposing the appeal to protect the community from a potential eviction, secure tenure and enable eventual upgrading.