Press Statements

  • Constitutional Court confirms Mashaba’s inner city raids unconstitutional (25 October 2021). On Friday 22 October 2021, the Constitutional Court confirmed an earlier judgment by the Johannesburg High Court declaring section 13(7)(c) of the South African Police Services Act 68 of 1995 (the SAPS Act) constitutionally invalid insofar as it allows for warrantless searches. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Illegal eviction renders Dunkeld West residents homeless (9 April 2021). On Tuesday 6 April 2021, employees of the Red Ant Security Relocation & Eviction Services, with the supervision of the Sheriff, illegally evicted dozens of residents from their homes on a property in Dunkeld West, leaving them homeless and destitute. During the eviction, residents lost their homes and most had their furniture and personal possessions destroyed, resulting in the elderly and mothers with infants having to sleep on the street. In addition to being evicted from their homes, the residents have had to endure harassment and intimidation from law enforcement and private security. SERI has launched an urgent application for the restoration of the residents to their homes and to restrain any further interference with their occupation until a proper court order has been obtained. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Midrand waste reclaimers challenge attempts to render them homeless (1 March 2021). On Monday, 1 March 2021, a cohort of 107 waste reclaimers will appear before the High Court in Johannesburg to oppose eviction from their homes. The property is undeveloped land located between a residential complex and a business park in Midrand, Johannesburg. The applicant is Rycloff-Beleggings (Pty) Ltd, the registered title-holder of the property. The occupiers are informal reclaimers who have been residing on the property for at least five years. In addition to living on the property, access to the land has enabled them to eke out a living by sorting and storing their recyclable materials on site. >> Read the full statement here.

For a full archive of all SERI press statements from 2010 to 2021 see here.

 

Op-eds

For a full list of op-eds written by SERI staff, see here.

 

Submissions

  • SERI makes a submission on the Land Court Bill. On 23 July 2021, SERI made a submission to The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on the Land Court Bill. The Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of a Land Court and a Land Court of Appeal; to make provision for the administration and judicial functions of the Land Court and Land Court of Appeal; to provide for the exclusive jurisdiction of the Land Courts and to amend certain laws relating to the adjudication of land matters by other courts. In brief, the Bill is primarily concerned with establishing the legal basis for the Land Courts as functioning institutions. SERI considered the Bill and made this submission to The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in accordance with the invitation to submit written comments.  >> Read the full submission here.
  • SERI makes a submission on the Rental Housing Tribunal Regulations. On 3 June 2021, SERI made a submission to the Department of Human Settlements on the Rental Housing Tribunal Regulations. SERI’s submission provides background to the organisation and its work, contextualises the affordable rental sector, comments on the content of the draft regulations, and makes recommendations in relation to each concern.  SERI welcomes these regulations which aim to give effect to the commencement of the Rental Housing Act 35 of 2014.The act required that the Minister issue regulations on the norms and standards, the procedures of the Tribunal and its appellate body and the unfair practice regulations within a year of the commencement of the amendment. We recognise the role of the regulations as one of the legislative measures that the state has taken to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to have access to adequate housing. >> Read the full submission here.  
  • SERI reports on discrimination, segregation and the right to adequate housing. On 30 April 2021 SERI made a submission to the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing in line with the special rapporteur’s call for inputs on housing discrimination and spatial segregation. SERI highlighted the lack of viable formal rental options for inner city residents and how this exacerbates the challenges of unlawful occupations in South Africa. The submission discussed on-going unlawful evictions in spite of protective legislation preventing such, considered the reactive alternative accommodation strategies across municipalities and the relocation of evictees to distant and peripheral areas. Lastly, we discuss the failure to dismantle Apartheid spatial planning and implement progressive legislation in order to achieve spatial justice goals. >> Read the full submission here
  • SERI makes a submission on the Expropriation Bill. On 28 February 2021, SERI made a written submission to the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure on the Expropriation Bill. Prior to this submission, SERI engaged with the previous version of the Expropriation Bill and made a submission in February 2019. SERI stands by its original submission and wishes to further supplement it with additional emphases on some key aspects in this submission. SERI’s submission welcomes the Expropriation Bill as an affirmation of the state’s role in unlocking land for developmental and redistributive purposes. >> Read the full submission here.
  • SERI comment on SALGA's operating manual on land occupation. On 15 December, SERI wrote a letter to SALGA in response to its “Operating Manual for Unlawful Occupation of Land.” Overall, SERI’s response is that SALGA should consider narrowing the scope to the communication and vacant land management proposals which are set out in the document. SERI’s view is that the current emphasis on safety and security, disaster management and humanitarian aid should be reviewed in order to adopt what SERI considers to be a more appropriate positioning in relation to the rule of law, the right to housing and the developmental mandate of local government.
  • SERI comments on National Treasury’s City Support Programme’s draft Informal Settlement Community Development Programme concept for South Africa. In October 2020, SERI made a submission on the City Support Programme’s draft Informal Settlement Community Development Programme concept for South Africa. The submission stems from an invitation to comment in order to receive input from “grassroots organisations who have extensive knowledge and experience in relation to community needs” >> Read the full submission here.
  • SERI joins civil society calls for extension to evictions moratorium. On 14 May 2020, SERI endorsed a recommendation by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) to the National Command Council that Regulation 19 be amended to reflect a full moratorium on the institution and hearing of eviction proceedings, as well as the execution of eviction orders and all home demolitions, for the entire duration of Alert Level 4 >> Read the full recommendations here.
  • Comments on Director-General of the Department of Water and Sanitation's presentation on "Covid-19 Interventions". On 7 May 2020, SERI submitted comments to a presentation made by the Director-General of the Department of Water and Sanitation on “Covid-19 interventions” to the joint Portfolio Committee and Select Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation on 21 April 2020. These comments were submitted following SERI’s engagement, along with the SAWC South African Water Caucus (SAWC) and the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), with the Minister’s Advisory Committee on 30 April 2020.  The Minister’s Advisory Committee will convey our comments and questions and provide responses >> Read the comments here.
  • Urgent call for immediate action to suspend and resolve water and electricity disconnections. On 23 April 2020, SERI in collaboration with Ndifuna Ukwazi, Lawyers for Human Rights, Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, Legal Resource Centre and ProBono.Org addressed a statement to the National Command Council, relevant Cabinet Ministers and respective Provincial Departments of Human Settlement. The statement addresses the insufficient measures currently in place to safeguard against landlords disconnecting a tenant’s electricity and water connection during the lockdown >> Read the full statement here.
  • Submission for a reassessment of de-densification in informal settlements in the context of COVID-19. On 11 April 2020, a group of civil society organisations made a submission to the Department of Human Settlements (NDHS) on its proposed strategy to de-densify informal settlements in response to COVID-19. The submission argues that de-densification should not be the central thrust of a human settlements response to informal settlements. It calls for a wide-scale emergency response to provide water, sanitation, hygiene and food relief to all informal settlement residents. >> Read SERI’s submission here.
  • Submission of comments on the City of Johannesburg’s Draft Temporary Emergency Accommodation Provision Policy, November 2019. On 18 October 2019, the City of Johannesburg invited interested parties to comment on three draft policies that aim to address the growing need for housing in and around Johannesburg, particularly in circumstances that may lead to homelessness. The policies are the housing allocation policy, serviced sites policy, and the temporary emergency accommodation policy. According to the City, the three policies seek to: “to guide the department and provide clear processes in how the department proposes to allocate beneficiaries to RDP houses, how it proposes to implement the new directive of giving people serviced sites to build their own homes, and how to better deal with the very challenging aspect of providing temporary emergency accommodation to those in need.” In November 2019, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) submitted its comments on the City of Johannesburg’s Draft Policy on Temporary Emergency Accommodation in accordance with the invitation to submit written comments. SERI welcomes the City’s efforts to proactively plan for future housing needs. >> Read SERI’s submission here.
  • Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, November 2019. On 18 November 2019, SERI, in collaboration with members of the Steering Group of South Africa’s Ratification Campaign of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and its Optional Protocol (the Coalition), made a submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing. As noted in the call for submissions, the Special Rapporteur has documented the nature and extent of the global housing crisis in her thematic and country visit reports. To assist States and other stakeholders to respond to the housing crisis, she has published draft Guidelines outlining key elements that underpin the effective implementation of the right to housing. These Guidelines will also inform the Special Rapporteur’s final report to the Human Rights Council. The submission, endorsed by Black Sash; Development Action Group (DAG); Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape; People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHM-SA); the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS); Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR); Section27; the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI); Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII); Prof Jackie Dugard and Prof Lilian Chenwi from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, endorsed the draft Guidelines and noted that guidelines provide States with a framework to “address the challenges of informal settlements, homelessness, and insecure tenure”. >> Read SERI’s submission here.
  • Submission on draft Expropriation Bill, February 2019. On 21 December 2019, the Minister of Public Works published an invitation for interested parties to comment on the draft Expropriation Bill, 2019. SERI has considered the draft Bill and made a submission to the Minister in accordance with the public consultation process. The Expropriation Bill is a welcome affirmation of the state’s role in unlocking land for developmental and redistributive purposes. However, SERI considers that more could be done to ensure that the Bill is situated within a more thoroughly worked-out programme of urban land reform that has appropriate regard to the wealth of already existing regulatory instruments and opportunities to use expropriation to facilitate pro-poor land reform. SERI’s primary concerns relate to the exclusion of individuals from being able to initiate the expropriation process; limitations on the ability to expropriate state-owned land; the location of the draft Bill in relation to existing legislation; the expropriation of state-subsidised property for nil compensation; the limitations on the ability for citizens to monitor the implementation of the expropriation process; and the definition of “purely speculative purposes”.>> Read SERI’s submission here.
  • Submission on City of Johannesburg's Draft Inclusionary Housing Incentives, Regulations and Mechanisms, 2018. SERI submitted written comments on the City of Johannesburg Draft Inclusionary Housing: Incentives, Regulations and Mechanisms, which makes it mandatory for any property development in the City that consists of ten or more dwelling units to include at least 20% inclusionary housing. SERI's submission welcomes the spirit of the draft policy, which clearly attempts to address the acute lack of rental housing that caters for poor and low-income households in the City in a manner that promotes spatial justice. However, the submission also raises a number of concerns with the policy. In particular, the policy fails to ensure that inclusionary housing units are made available to low-income households (households earning less than R3 200 a month); does not link the rental in inclusionary housing to household income; and lacks accountability or enforcement measures to ensure that property developers, social housing institutions and body corporates comply with the policy. >>Read the draft policy here and SERI's submission here.
  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg Draft Land Use Scheme, 2017. SERI submitted written comments on the City of Johannesburg Draft Land Use Scheme, which intends to give effect to section 24(1) of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA) by replacing the prevailing 16 town planning schemes with a single consolidated land use scheme. SERI's submission raises a number of concerns about the land use scheme, including that the scheme criminalises unauthorised land use, fails to give the users and occupiers of land sufficient standing, and fails to make progressive use of special zones and the incremental introduction of land use management to address the challenges posed by informal settlements. >>Read the draft land use scheme here and SERI's submission on the scheme here.
  • Submission on the Gauteng Land Invasion Management and Prevention Policy, 2017. SERI submitted written comments on the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements (the Department)'s Gauteng Land Invasion Management and Prevention Policy, which seeks to regulate unlawful occupation of land in the province. SERI's submission clarifies the law; argues that the policy is an inappropriate response to urbanisation and is likely to encourage evictions; questions the lack of clarity about “registration permits” and “site allocations” and the Department’s silence on the appropriateness of Anti-Land Invasion Units; and raises concerns about the policy's failure to prioritise proactive ways to address unlawful land occupation. >>Read the policy here and SERI's submission on the policy here.
  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg’s Special Process for the Relocation of Evictees, 5 October 2016. SERI submitted comments on the City of Johannesburg's draft Special Process for the Relocation of Evictees (SPRE). SPRE has been formulated as the City’s response to its constitutional obligation to provide temporary alternative accommodation to occupants who might be rendered homeless by an eviction. >>Read SERI's submission here.
  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg's draft Spatial Development Framework (29 March 2016). SERI submitted comments on the City of Johannesburg's draft Spatial Development Framework (SDF). The SDF is a city-wide spatial policy document identifying the main challenges and opportunities in the city, setting a spatial vision for the future city, and outlining a set of strategies that would lead to the realisation of that vision. SERI's submission focuses on three topics: Spatial Justice, Provision of Affordable Housing, and Informal Work. >>Read SERI's submission here and a summary of the submission here.
  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg’s Municipal Planning By-Law 2015 (1 March 2016). On 29 January 2016, the City of Johannesburg (the City) published an invitation to comment on its Municipal Planning By-Law, 2015. The By-Law is published pursuant to the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA). SPLUMA and the By-Law set out development principles which apply to all organs of state and other authorities responsible for the implementation of legislation regulating the use and development of land. >>Read SERI's full submission here.
  • Submission on the amendmentsto Rule 46 of the Uniform Rules of Court and Rule 43 of the Magistrates’ Court Rules (29 January 2016). On 29 January 2016, SERI made a submission to the Rules Board for Courts of Law (the Rules Board) in response to an invitation for interested parties to comment on proposed amendments to Rule 46 of the Uniform Rules of Court and Rule 43 of the Magistrates’ Court Rules. These Rules regulate the sale in execution of immovable property in the higher courts and magistrates’ courts respectively. >>Read SERI's full submission here.
  • Submission to the Lwandle Ministerial Enquiry (10 September 2014). On 10 September 2014, SERI made submissions before the Lwandle Ministerial Enquiry. The inquiry was established by the Minister of Human Settlements to investigate the circumstances under which the violent eviction of over 800 residents of the Lwandle community in Cape Town on 2 and 3 June 2014 took place. SERI's submission briefly summarises eviction law in South Africa, and examines three cases where the constitutional and legislative protections for unlawful occupiers were circumvented: Zulu, Fischer and Lwandle. it also looks at proactive ways that the state can address land occupation. >>Read SERI's full submission here. Read the final report by the Enquiry here.
  • Submission on the Budget Vote Speech of the Minister of Human Settlements (28 July 2014). SERI has submitted written comments to the Budget Vote Speech of the Minister of Human Settlements in accordance with the Minister's call for debate on housing in the country. SERI welcomes various aspects of the speech, including the acknowledgement that the rate of delivery of state-subsidised housing has, problematically, been in decline and that there is no credible data against which municipalities can verify the allocation of state-subsidised housing. Issues of concern include the lack of any engagement with informal settlement upgrading and the problematic assumption that social housing could provide low-cost rental accommodation for the urban poor. SERI discusses these issues and states that it is willing to engage the Department of Human Settlements in relation thereto. >>Read the Minister's Budget Vote Speech here and SERI's submission here.
  • Submission on the proposed amendment of Rule 46 of the Uniform Rules of Court and Rule 43 of the Magistrates’ Court Rules (28 February 2014). SERI has submitted written comments to the Rules Board for Courts of Law on the proposed amendment of the court rules regulating the sale in execution of a debtor’s home to satisfy a judgment debt. At present the Rules provide for sales in execution “without reserve”. The Rules Board proposes that courts should, in the exercise of their judicial oversight function, be able to set the reserve price at which a sale in execution of primary residential property should commence. SERI supports the proposed amendment provided that the setting of reserve prices is made mandatory and that reserve prices are linked to the value of the property in question. This would provide significant protection to poor debtors who are at risk of losing their accommodation and most valuable financial assets. >>Read the proposed amendments here and SERI's submission here.
  • Submission on the City of Johannesburg's Draft By-Laws on Problem Properties (12 December 2013). SERI has submitted written comments to the City of Johannesburg on their Draft By-Laws on Problem Properties. SERI argues that there are a number of problematic aspects with the by-laws, including the following: they fail to take into consideration the Abahlali decision; they will encourage evictions and homelessness; they fail to provide for meaningful engagement; and they contain vague provisions, over-broad powers and unfettered discretion. >>Read SERI's submission on the draft by-laws here.
  • SERI submission on the Mpumalanga Eradication, Prevention and Control of Informal Settlements Bill (4 December 2012). SERI has written a submission on the recently published Mpumalanga Eradication, Prevention and Control of Informal Settlements Bill, 2012. The submission is endorsed by a number of individuals and organisations, including Abahlali baseMjondolo, Batho Land and Shelter (BLS), Centre for Urban and Built Environment Studies (CUBES), Built Environment Support Group (BESG), Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Planact and Urban LandMark. >> Read the Bill here and the joint submission here.

  • SERI submission on the National Sanitation Policy (2011). The National Sanitation Programme within the Department of Human Settlements (DHS), together with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), is revising the 2001 White Paper on Basic Household Sanitation. Read SERI's submissions on the draft National Sanitation Policy here.

  • Submission on the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill, 2011 (SPLUMB). National government is in the process of creating national legislation on spatial planning and land use management in South Africa. This process has been stalled numerous times since the White Paper on Spatial Planning and Land Use Management was gazetted over ten years ago in 2001. See the proposed legislation here and SERI's submission here. Also of interest are submissions by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).

  • Submission on the Limpopo Prevention and Control of Informal Settlements Bill (2011). A number of organisations and individuals have endorsed a submission on this proposed provincial legislation which was drafted by SERI. The submission inter alia describes how the Bill does not have sufficient regard to the decision of the Constitutional Court in Abahlali baseMjondolo v The Premier of KwaZulu Natal 2010 (2) BCLR 99 (CC), which was far from being a qualified endorsement of the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) Slums Act. Read the submission here. SERI has also endorsed a comment on the Bill from a policy perspective, written by Prof Marie Huchzermeyer. Read the comment here.

  • SERI comments on the 2010/11 national budget. SERI was asked to comment on the 2010/11 Budget Speech by Minister Gordhan, choosing to focus on issues around meaningful engagement, industrial policy, informal trading, housing and basic services in its submission. Read the submission here.