On 29 August 2013, SERI and the Community Law Centre (CLC) officially launched the ‘Jumping the Queue’, Waiting Lists and other Myths: Perceptions and Practice around Housing Demand and Allocation in South Africa research report. The report analyses perceptions and practice around housing demand and allocation in South Africa, looking at the policies and processes operating at national, provincial and local level. It attempts to unpack some of the complexity and provide recommendations to government departments at all levels. It argues that the housing waiting list is a myth and should be eradicated from public discourse on housing in favour of a more nuanced way of characterising the rational, appropriate and humane responses to the broad range of housing needs in South Africa, which are not currently catered for by the market.
On 24 August 2013, SERI hosted a workshop in Yeoville for over 100 residents living in four inner city buildings provided by the City of Johannesburg following the Olivia Road and Blue Moonlight Constitutional Court judgments. Residents from MBV 1 and Old Perm (managed by the City), Ekuthuleni shelter (managed by MES) and MBV 2 (managed by JOSHCO) attended the workshop, which provided an overview of the current litigation and facilitated a discussion on current challenges in the buildings and strategies to deal with them moving forward. It was decided that a joint commitee comprising representatives from all the buildings will be elected to take various aspects of the workshop forward.
On 14 August 2013, 116 residents of three houses in Soper Road, Berea were evicted onto the street. SERI represented the occupiers in an urgent application to restore them to the property (Part A), pending the outcome of an application to have the three eviction orders rescinded (Part B). None of the occupiers had notice of the eviction application or were aware that eviction orders were granted against them on an unopposed basis.
On 14 August, Judge Mathopo in the South Gauteng High Court ordered that the residents be restored to the property pending the outcome of the rescission application. The order was executed that evening.
SERI has filed its heads of argument as amicus curiae in an appeal to be heard in the SCA on 22 August 2013. The case concerns the correct interpretation of the decision of the Constitutional Court in Sebola (see here for more on this case). SERI argues that the lower court decision that the Sebola decision precluded it from granting the applications for default judgment, was correct. On the facts it was clear that the section 129(1)(a) notices required in terms of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 did not reach the respondents.
On 27 and 28 May 2013, SERI co-hosted a regional consultation in Johannesburg on "Security of Tenure for the Urban Poor", together with the Ford Foundation, the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik. The consultation was attended by government, civil society, academic and professional representatives from South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, Madagascar, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda.
During 2013, the Special Rapporteur is focusing on developing guidelines on security of tenure, specifically focused on the urban poor and in particular those living in informal settlements. By the end of 2013, she will submit to the UN Human Rights Council her report and recommendations, which will stem from the consultations and research conducted in 2013.