Resource Guides

Students Rights Guide imageDuring 2015 and 2016, students on university campuses across South Africa embarked on large-scale, disruptive protests calling for systemic changes to how universities operate and approach education, as well as how academic curricula are structured. Government, university administrators, police and private security often responded to these protests with force in an attempt to shut them down. Universities approached the courts to obtain interdicts preventing students from protesting on campuses. The police used tear gas, stun grenades, water cannons and rubber bullets against protesting students in often disproportionate and unlawful uses of force. This user-friendly resource guide explains students’ rights to protest, as well as students’ rights when they are arrested, detained or charged with a crime during a protest. It aims to create awareness of the rights and obligations of those involved in student protests to encourage university administrators, police and private security officials to respect human rights and mitigate the disproportionate and unlawful use of force. The guide was written by Michael Clark and Tim Fish Hodgson. 

Community OrganisersThis guide was developed to assist CBOs to organise effectively in order to facilitate social change in their communities. It draws on the experiences and practices of the South African shackdwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) and examines a number of topics: what is a community organisation, principles of community organisation, establishing a CBO, community meetings, protests and gatherings, education programmes, sustaining a CBO, managing and sharing information, and networking and partnerships. This guide is one of the resources in the Dear Mandela Toolkit, aimed at informing individuals, communities and CBOs of their rights.


Research Reports

Double Harm reportThis report documents the injuries caused by the often disproportionate and unlawful use of force by police officers called in to disperse campus-based protest at the University of the Witwatersrand in September to November 2016. It also deals with attempts to provide crucial medical assistance to injured protestors, and documents cases in which these efforts were obstructed by, or as a result of, the police. The report further emphasises the traumatic and long-term health consequences of some of the injuries incurred as a result of the misuse of police force. The findings of the report raise serious questions about the appropriateness of the deployment of police to regulate campus-based protest and highlight the need to proactively plan for how to deal with casualties and ensure speedy access to independent and competent medical care once police have been called onto university campuses —otherwise, obstruction and delays would inevitably compound harm. The report was written by Dr Mary Rayner, Prof Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven and Dr Steve Naidoo. >>Read the full report (including an executive summary) here.

Anatomy of Dissent

This research report examines the week-long protest in Thembelihle, near Lenasia, Johannesburg which took place in September 2011. Frustrated by an unaccountable and unresponsive local government that frequently disregarded the community’s on-going demands for access to adequate basic services, Thembelihle residents took to the streets. Their demands, however, were dismissed by local and provincial government and met with a forceful police clamp-down. In the aftermath of the protest, arrest and criminal prosecution (often on frivolous charges) was used to harass and intimidate community members and to target community leaders, marking an alarming trend in which the criminal justice system is used by the government to suppress popular dissent. This highlights the growing trend of state repression of popular protests in poor urban areas and details how the state employs the criminal justice system to vilify, criminalise and suppress local communities advocating  for socio-economic development. This report was written by Michael Clark. >>Read the full report (including an executive summary) here.


Working Papers


ParalegalThis paper was prepared for The Justice and Development Working Paper Series. It examines the role of paralegals in providing a crucial link to justice services and legal redress in South Africa, particularly for the rural poor. The paper begins with a historical overview of paralegal services in South Africa from the apartheid period to the present. The study then maps the current state of the paralegal sector, and provides detailed information on the structure and function of key organizations that provide paralegal services. Through an analysis of twelve case studies of paralegal-assisted cases, the report identifies facilitating and hindering determinants of community advice office (CAO) functions at both the institutional and organization level. This working paper was written by Jackie Dugard and Kay Drage.


Other Publications