During the week of 11 to 15 August 2014, SERI is paying tribute to the 37 miners whose families we represent at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

Read here, visit SERI's Facebook page (in Marikana Anniversary 2014 photo album) or follow our Twitter timeline to see the faces behind the numbers and to read more about the miners, how they were killed and the impact their deaths have had on their families.

Koppie

For more information on the Marikana Second Commemoration events to be held on 16 August, go to http://www.marikanajustice.co.za/.

In an article entitled "Legalizing economic and social rights can help the poor: reflections from South Africa", published on the open Global Rights platform, SERI's executive director Stuart Wilson challenges the central tenet of an article written by Jacob Mchangama (open Global Rights, 29 July 2014) which argues that legalising economic and social rights "will not help the poor."

The response by Wilson argues that "socio-economic rights contribute to economic and social transformation by correcting unreasonable state policy, and combating social exclusion. At its best, economic and social rights activism challenges power, mobilises poor communities and delivers significant concrete benefits to the poorest of the poor."

  • Read the full article (7 August 2014) here.

The SERI Law Clinic seeks the services of an attorney with at least three years’ experience to fill a vacancy for a Senior Attorney, to commence work on 1 January 2015, or as soon as possible thereafter.

The Senior 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. He or she will also be expected to mentor, train and act as principal to one or more of SERI’s candidate attorneys.

The closing date for applications is Friday 22 August 2014. 

  • Read the full job description here.

Today SERI filed its heads of argument in the Hlophe case, to be heard in the SCA later in 2014. The City of Johannesburg is appealing a High Court judgment handed down in 2013 after residents of Chung Hua Mansions instituted proceedings to obtain an order directing the Executive Mayor, City Manager and Director of Housing ("the functionaries") to take steps in terms of their constitutional and statutory obligations, to make the City comply with its court-ordered obligations to provide accommodation to the residents.

On 3 April 2013 the High Court directed the functionaries to “take all the necessary steps” to see to it that the City discharged its court-ordered obligations. Just over a month later, the City tendered accommodation to the residents, despite having insisted for nearly a year that this was “impossible”. Once the functionaries faced the likelihood that they would have to account for the City’s consistent refusal to obey orders of court, the “impossible” became “possible”.

The main issue in this appeal arises in this context. It is whether, having endured the breach of three court orders intended to ensure the provision of alternative accommodation, the residents are prohibited, in principle, from pursuing mandatory relief against the functionaries in control of the City. The latter argue that they can never be directed to perform their constitutional and statutory duties to see to it that the City obeys court orders, no matter how protracted or severe the disobedience, and no matter how severe the consequences of non-compliance.

SERI argues that this extreme claim relies on a fundamental misconception. The functionaries suggest that the order of the High Court imposed “direct and personal” liability on them to perform obligations that properly fall on the City. But that is simply not the relief the residents sought, or what the High Court ordered. The functionaries were ordered to take the necessary steps in terms of their own constitutional and statutory obligations, to cause the City to obey a court order against it. In other words, the functionaries were not directed to perform the City’s obligations themselves. They were directed to discharge their own statutory obligations as the senior officials responsible for the City’s operations, to ensure that those operations brought about compliance with the relevant court orders.

  • Residents' heads of argument in the Supreme Court of Appeal (21 July 2014) here.
  • Read more on the Hlophe case here.

On 15 July Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu delivered her Budget Vote speech to the National Assembly. A Daily Maverick opinion piece by SERI's Lauren Royston and Stuart Wilson argues that, while there are aspects of the Minister’s address that should be welcomed, there are also a number of weaknesses in her approach. 

  • Read the Daily Maverick op-ed "Housing: The need for more realistic debate" (21 July 2014) here.