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[PRESS STATEMENT] Cape Town inner city occupiers oppose eviction by the municipality (21 April 2023).

Cape Town evictionsOn Wednesday, 19 April 2023, SERI appeared in the Cape Town High Court on behalf of occupiers of the Cape Town inner city to oppose their eviction by the Municipality. The occupiers approached SERI to oppose the imminent eviction from their homes, and to ensure that the eviction is just and equitable. The occupiers are homeless people occupying several locations in ­the Central Business District.


SERI filed the occupiers’ notice of intention to oppose as soon as the occupiers’ instructions were confirmed. Prior to SERI’s involvement the occupiers faced the prospect of being evicted from their homes without the court being presented with all the relevant circumstances by the occupiers. This is necessary to ensure that the occupiers receive a fair and just hearing in court and that the eviction is just and equitable. The occupiers have a Constitutional right to legal representation and SERI’s representation of the occupiers ensures that they are active participants in a matter that concerns their constitutional rights. The matter has now been removed from the Court’s roll of unopposed matters to allow the occupiers to file their answering affidavit as litigants in the matter.  


SERI remains concerned about the housing crisis in South Africa. The eviction of poor people from their places of residence without a process through which to meaningfully engage, and without the provision of suitable alternative accommodation, only serves to exacerbate the crisis. 


SERI has noted with concern the comments made by the City of Cape Town in its statement characterising our involvement in the matter as a delay. It is important to note that the timelines for the case were agreed with the City. Therefore, it is surprising that the City is now seeking to characterise our involvement as a delay. The Court has afforded the occupiers an opportunity to compile and file their answering affidavit, which is a normal procedure in litigation and is in fact, a necessary step in the legal process.
SERI remains committed to working towards a fair and just resolution for all parties and will continue to work with the affected communities to seek a long-term solution to the matter. 


Contact details:  

  • Khululiwe Bhengu, SERI senior attorney, khululiwe[at]seri-sa.org 
  • Khuselwa Dyantyi, SERI attorney, khuselwa[at]seri-sa.org
  • Zolile Shude, SERI candidate attorney, zolile[at]seri-sa.org

Download the full statement here

[TRIBUTE] SERI mourns the passing of Mduduzi Radebe (12 April 2023).

Mduduzi Radebe

 

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend, Mduduzi Radebe (14 June 1976 – 6 April 2023).  Mduduzi was a highly respected financial consultant and a valued member of our team for the last five years. He passed away unexpectedly last week Thursday, leaving us all in shock and mourning.

Mduduzi was known for his expertise, professionalism, and dedication to his work with decades of experience in the NGO sector. He possessed a wealth of knowledge that he generously shared with his colleagues, always willing to go above and beyond to help them achieve their goals. Throughout his career, Mduduzi demonstrated exceptional analytical skills, consistently guiding his clients towards success and financial stability. 

But beyond his professional accomplishments, Mduduzi was also a beloved friend and a father, known for his infectious smile, warm personality, and kind heart. 

Mduduzi's passing is a great loss to our team, and to the NGO sector at large. We are all deeply saddened by this news, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.

[ADVOCACY] SERI hosts a weeklong a Women’s Equality Spaces Project Steering Committee Meeting (11 April 2023).

womens spacesFrom 26 to 31 March, SERI hosted a week long Women’s Spaces Partnership Steering Committee (PSC) in Johannesburg. The steering committee forms part of the Women’s Spaces project which focuses on women’s rights to land and housing in sub-Saharan Africa. The PSC is an annual meeting between the project partners and Rooftops Canada, the lead organisation, to provide strategic direction and oversight. The steering committee includes Mazingira Institute based in Kenya, The Shelter and Settlement Alternatives: Uganda Human Settlements Network and Development Workshop Angola. Approximately 15 participants from all partner organizations attended the meeting, which was facilitated by Rooftops Canada. The main objective of the engagement was to share the experiences of women in partner countries in accessing their rights to land, property, and housing.

During the first two days, each partner organisation presented their progress, lessons learned, and challenges faced in implementing their respective parts of the project. On the third day, participants had a working exchange with the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF), where experiences were shared between project partners and the Slovo Park community members. The fourth day included a seminar on community advice offices, legal aid, and public interest legal services in South Africa, facilitated by SERI, the Inner City Federation (ICF), and Inner City Resource Centre (ICRC). The day also featured a presentation from the communications subcommittee on creating a broader communication strategy for the project. The last day concluded with a presentation by Joseph Schechla from the Habitat International Coalition on environmental issues related to the Women's Spaces project.

In the next three years, project partners will continue working together to ensure women's equal access to land, housing, and livelihood in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

 

[JOB OPPORTUNITY] SERI is looking for two candidate attorneys to join our team (3 April 2023).

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) Law Clinic wishes to fill up to two vacancies for candidate attorneys (CAs).

These vacancies will arise on or after 1 January 2024.

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.

SERI is authorised by the Legal Practice Council to accept and train CAs. CAs are recruited for a fixed-term of two years, leading to qualification and admission as an attorney. These posts carry salaries in the region of R 305 000 per annum.

The requirements for the positions are as follows -

Essential

  • LLB Degree. 
  • Interest in and, some prior engagement with, human rights law or litigation. 

Desirable

  • Interest in, and experience of, research and publication.  
  • Fluency in any of South Africa’s indigenous languages.

SERI wishes to contribute to the development of a new generation of human rights lawyers at the national and international level. Accordingly, the positions carry with them significant opportunities for travel and continuing professional training and development.

If you are interested, please send a CV, academic transcript and covering letter to Princess Nkuna at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In your letter, provide a detailed explanation of why you are interested in working for SERI, and what qualities and experience you would bring to the post.

Generalised covering letters, which do not engage with SERI’s activities and purpose, will not be considered.

The closing date for applications is Friday 28 April 2023. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and will be expected to make themselves available for an interview in June or July 2023.

  • View the advertisement here.

[WORKSHOP] SERI hosts a workshop for Domestic Workers at the Forge (31 March 2023).

COIDA Forge

On 25 March, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) hosted a workshop on the Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA) at The Forge in Braamfontein. The purpose of the workshop was to inform domestic workers of their rights in terms of the Act, the protections the Act affords domestic workers and their dependents, the challenges domestic workers experience when submitting their claims and to answer questions domestic workers have about COIDA. The workshop was organised in collaboration with Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance and South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU). The workshop was attended by 40 participants. 

The workshop began with identifying participants’ expectations for the workshop. This was followed by a presentation by SERI attorney, Tebogo Tshehlo and candidate attorney, Dineo Phalane which provided an overview of COIDA, the protections and benefits the Act affords domestic workers and their dependents and the background of Mahlangu v Minister of Labour judgment. SERI researcher Kelebogile Khunou and research intern Yongeza Mbimbi then outlined the process of claiming from the Compensation Fund and highlighted the challenges and obstacles which domestic workers experience when starting the claims process. The workshop ended with a lively question and answer session. 

COIDA forge IIDomestic workers have been included in COIDA since 19 November 2020 when the Constitutional Court handed down an order in Mahlangu v Minister of Labour, declaring the constitutional invalidity of section 1(xix)(v) of  COIDA which excluded domestic workers employed in private households from the definition of "employee", precluding them from claiming from the Compensation Fund for work-related injuries, illnesses or death. The Court also ruled that the order of constitutional invalidity is to have immediate and retrospective effect from 27 April 1994, which means that those domestic workers and dependants who have experienced work-related injuries, diseases or death as far back as 27 April 1994 are also able to submit their claims.

In the two years since the inclusion of domestic workers in COIDA, only 14 claims form domestic workers have been processed by the Compensation Fund. Workshop participants identified 1) the need for widespread awareness campaigns on COIDA for domestic workers, especially in rural areas and 2) the need for education campaigns and registration deadlines for employers of domestic workers, as priorities.