- Street Trade in eThekwini: Your Rights (December 2022)
This Guide explains the rights of informal traders and the laws and policies that protect them, and gives informal traders practical advice on how to engage with the eThekwini Municipality and its officials. The guide begins by setting out how one can become a registered informal trader. It then sets out the legal relationships between registered informal traders and the Municipality. It then describes the Municipality’s powers in regulating informal trade and sets out what legal steps traders can take when they experience unfair treatment by the Municipality. The guide ends with a section explaining the importance of protecting human rights defenders and a list of useful contact details. The guide is based on an earlier guide that SERI produced for traders in Johannesburg and has been developed in close consultation with street traders operating in eThekwini, drawing directly from their experiences and insights.This guide was written by Nick Budlender and edited by Lauren Royston (SERI Research and Advocacy Director). The guide is also available in IsiZulu.
- Employing a Domestic Worker: a Legal and Practical Guide (August 2021)
This Guide has been written for employers of domestic workers in South Africa. The purpose of this guide is to inform employers of their rights and obligations in the domestic employment relationship according to the law; provide practical advice towards creating a healthy working environment; and to support employers to improve their employment practices. It was written by Kelebogile Khunou (SERI researcher) and Amy Tekié (Izwi co-founder).
SERI and Black Sash produce new factsheet to aid domestic workers in claiming from COIDA(June 2021)
Domestic workers are now covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA). This law provides for the payment of compensation to employees who suffer injuries or contract diseases while performing their work duties through the Compensation Fund. In the case of a death as a result of a work-related injury or disease, the Fund allows for compensation to the deceased employee’s dependents. This factsheet details the four main types of compensation payments under COIDA and explains how domestic workers can claim from the compensation fund.
SERI worked with the Black Sash to produce a factsheet for domestic workers, paralegals and community advice offices to provide them with information about the Mahlangu v Minister of Labour matter, in which domestic workers successfully challenged their exclusion from the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA) previously known as Workmen’s Compensation. The factsheet explains how COIDA works, summarises the facts of the court case and explains the implications of the judgment for domestic workers. The fact sheet explains how COIDA works, summarises the facts of the court case and explains the implications of the judgment for domestic workers. The fact sheet is also available in Shona, Sesotho, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu.
- Health and Legal Guidelines for informal trade (July 2020)
SERI worked with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and other stakeholders to produce these health and legal guidelines for informal trade. This Poster offers graphic guidelines for workers in markets, streets and home shops. They are also available in IsiZulu, English and Afrikaans.
Domestic work is one of the largest sources of employment for black women in South Africa, however domestic workers remain one of the most vulnerable occupational groups. Many domestic workers continue to be subjected to exploitative working conditions and disrespectful treatment. Despite the implementation of labour laws and the collective efforts of domestic workers to assert their rights, domestic workers' employment rights are not always respected. SERI developed this user-friendly resource guide to create awareness of the rights of domestic workers and the obligations of employers in terms of the domestic employment relationship. It explains what the law says about domestic workers and gives practical advice on how domestic workers can engage their employers. The guide is also accompanied by six information sheets on leave (also available in isiZulu), wages (also available in isiZulu), the UIF (also available in isiZulu), the CCMA (also available in isiZulu), employment contracts (also available in isiZulu) and the end of the employment relationship (also available in isiZulu). The guide was written by Kelebogile Khunou.
- Informal Trade in Johannesburg: Your Rights (March 2017)
This guide sets out the rights of informal traders making a living in Johannesburg and the avenues available to ensure those rights are protected. Informal traders make a living in hostile environments, and local governments do not protect the rights of people making a living informally in the same way that they do those working in the formal sector. Despite this, informal traders have found novel ways to hold local authorities to account. If traders are aware of their rights and how to protect them, they are better placed to resist illegal harassment and clamp downs on their businesses. >>It can be downloaded here and should ideally be printed and folded.
- Protecting the Rights of Informal Traders (June 2014)
This pamphlet explains the process that a municipality must follow to legally prohibit informal trade in an area, or to relocate informal traders. It outlines what a municipality can do in terms of the Businesses Act 71 of 1991, what the process is that a municipality must follow to restrict or prohibit informal trade in an area, and what can be done to stop the restriction or prohibition of trading in an area. It is important to know about this process so as to ensure that a municipality follows the law, and that those who might be negatively affected are given a chance to participate and articulate their position. This pamphlet was written by Michael Clark.
- >>It can be downloaded here and should ideally be printed and folded.
- Experience of Food Vendors during Lockdown: A Snapshot of the Cape Town, Johannesburg and eThekwini Municipalities (2020)
This report was compiled by SERI together with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and Asiye eTafuleni for Informal food system workstream of the C19 People’s Coalition Food Working Group. The report examines the status quo related to bylaws, licensing, law enforcement and health support amongst informal street vendors in three main metros.
- Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa’s (SERI’s) Informal Settlement Research Series is called “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency”. It has produced three site-based research reports and a fourth synthesis report. The reports offer preliminary site-specific directions for future intervention and highlight implications for informal settlement upgrading in South Africa.
Informal settlements have been part of the South African urban landscape for decades. The Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) provides a strong policy framework for improving the lives of informal settlement residents. There are however few if any examples where municipalities have upgraded informal settlements in keeping with the policy. SERI’s research provides qualitative, evidence-based insights to assist government officials, practitioners, planners and community members to strengthen the implementation of in-situ upgrading.
1. The Promised Land: Ratanang Informal Settlement (April 2019)
This report, “The Promised Land: Ratanang Informal Settlement”, is the first of the three site-based reports in SERI’s informal settlement research series entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency.” The Ratanang informal settlement is situated west of the Klerksdorp Central Business District (CBD) in the City of Matlosana’s municipal jurisdiction. This report explores local realities and practices in land use management and tenure, access to basic services, the residents’ livelihoods and the nature of political space in the lives of Ratanang residents.
The report concludes that the Ratanang informal settlement was not an informal place to live. People organised themselves individually and collectively to secure their tenure, defend themselves against eviction, access land, water and energy and make a living. As such, external interventions which seek to impose an alternative order or regulate according to a different set of norms or rules – through processes of “formalisation”- should begin by recognising the local norms and regulations which already exist in Ratanang, and other informal settlements.
This report was a team effort. It was written by Lauren Royston (SERI senior associate) who also managed the project, Tiffany Ebrahim (SERI researcher) who also coordinated the field research and participated in the Ratanang steering committee, Edward Molopi (SERI researcher), Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy), and Dennis Webster (former SERI researcher). >>Read the report here.
2. Our Place to Belong: Marikana Informal Settlement (April 2019)
This report, “Our Place to Belong: Marikana Informal Settlement”, is the second of the three site-based reports in SERI’s informal settlement research series entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency.” The Marikana informal settlement is located in Philippi East, Cape Town. This report explores local realities and practices in land use management and tenure, access to basic services, the residents’ livelihoods and the nature of political space in the lives Marikana residents.
The report concludes with provisional directions for upgrading. It indicates Marikana-specific implications and also provides more general indications for upgrading policy and implementation.
This report was a team effort. It was written by Lauren Royston (SERI senior associate) who also managed the project, Dennis Webster (former SERI researcher) who also coordinated the field work, Tiffany Ebrahim (SERI researcher), Edward Molopi (SERI researcher) and Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy). >>Read the report here.
3. Left Behind: Siyanda Informal Settlement (April 2019)
This report, “Left Behind: Siyanda Informal Settlement”, is the third of the three site-based reports in SERI’s informal settlement research series entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency.” Siyanda is located in KwaMashu, eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal. This report explores local realities and practices in land use management and tenure, access to basic services, the residents’ livelihoods and the nature of political space in the lives Marikana residents.
The report concludes with preliminary directions for upgrading. It indicates Siyanda specific upgrading issues and provides more general indications for upgrading policy and implementation.
This report was a team effort. It was written by Lauren Royston (SERI senior associate) who also managed the project, Edward Molopi (SERI researcher) who also coordinated the field work, Tiffany Ebrahim (SERI researcher), Kelebogile Khunou (SERI researcher) and Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy). Abahlali baseMjondolo were SERI’s partners in the Siyanda research. >>Read the report here.
4. Here to Stay: A Synthesis of Findings and Implications from Ratanang, Marikana and Siyanda (May 2019)
This report, “Here to Stay: A Synthesis of Findings and Implications from Ratanang, Marikana and Siyanda” is the fourth and final report. It synthesises and compares findings across the three research sites and emanates from SERI’s informal settlement research series entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency.” It also considers the implications for upgrading in a comparative way across all three sites
The report concludes by emphasising the agency that occupiers and their representatives used in the face of considerable contestation and also offers some concrete directions for upgrading, based on the synthesis of the site-specific findings.
This report was a team effort. It was written by Lauren Royston (SERI senior associate) who also managed the project, Kelebogile Khunou (SERI researcher), Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy) and Tiffany Ebrahim (SERI researcher). Lauren Royston edited the report with assistance from Kelebogile Khunou. >>Read the report here.
- Informal Trade in South Africa: Legislation, Case Law and Recommendations for Local Government (June 2018)
This report responds to the fact that municipalities have struggled to fully come to terms with the law relating to informal trade. The report unpacks court judgments which have substantially contributed to the rights of informal traders and identifies a range of legal principles governing the rights, duties and obligations of informal traders, law enforcement officers and local government. The report dispels a number of longstanding myths associated with informal trade, including the belief that the law does not grant protection to foreign nationals who participate in informal trade, that informal traders often act illegally or unlawfully while trading, and that the only regulatory mechanisms available to local government are the impoundment of traders’ goods and the eviction or relocation of traders. The report concludes with various recommendations that have been drawn from case law. The report was developed in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SAGLA), and was written by Tim Fish Hodgson and Michael Clark. >>Read the full report here.
- Towards Recommendations on the Regulation of Informal Trade at Local Government Level: A Discussion Document (June 2018)
In 2017, over 1.1 million South Africans worked as informal traders. Informal trade therefore makes up a significant component of the economy and has an important role to play in addressing some of South Africa’s most pervasive developmental challenges, including high levels of unemployment and poverty. Local government has a pivotal role to play in facilitating informal trade. For this reason, this report provides a set of recommendations to local government on how informal trade can be regulated in a manner that respects the rights of informal traders, and is just, humane and inclusive. With knowledge of the law, local government can alter their approach to informal trade by supporting and nurturing this essential sector while also boosting economic growth. This report was developed in collaboration with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), and was written by Michael Clark. >>Read the full report here.
- 'The End of the Street?' Informal Traders' Experiences of Rights and Regulations in Inner City Johannesburg (September 2015)
This report provides a portrait of informal trade in the inner city of Johannesburg. In 2013, informal traders were evicted on a mass scale from the city’s streets as part of Operation Clean Sweep. The City of Johannesburg explained the operation as an effort to rid the inner city of crime and grime. During the eviction of traders, and the subsequent refusal to allow them to resume their trade, the City failed to follow the consultative processes required by the Businesses Act. The operation was later lambasted in a Constitutional Court judgment as an act of “humiliation and degradation”. This report investigates the regulation of informal trade in the inner city, as well as traders’ daily experiences of making a living there, in order to explore the impact of the prohibition and restriction of trade being pursued by the City. It argues that the regulation of informal trade is restrictive, non-consultative, orientated towards enforcement rather than development, and that it is instrumental in producing illegality. Further, by foregrounding the experiences of traders, it exposes major gaps in informal trading policy in the city and in the way in which informality has been imagined more broadly. The report argues that the challenges of informal trade can be addressed if the City improves the way in which it is regulated. There are, however, also deeper problems with the ways in which informality is imagined and approached by the City, and the state more generally. The report shows that an investigation into how prohibition or relocation may effect traders, as set out in the Businesses Act, is both possible and necessary. The report was written by Dennis Webster. >>Read the full report here and the summary here.
- Criminalising the Livelihoods of the Poor: The Impact of Formalising Informal Trading on Female and Migrant Traders in Durban (February 2011)
This research report examines the impact of attempts to formalise street trading in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality since 2000 on the livelihood of traders, particularly female and migrant traders. Durban has been at the forefront of developing policies to manage and control informal economy activities; however, as the report notes, the effect of the push for formalisation is exclusionary and mimics the influx control regimes of the apartheid administration, which prevented black communities from pursuing business opportunities in central business districts. Such regulation has a particularly adverse effect on migrants and poor women, since they struggle to meet the requirements for registration, permits and rentals. The report provides some recommendations for policy-makers, city officials and traders. The report was written by Blessing Karumbidza. >>Read the full report here.
Community Practice Notes
Making a Living Series
SERI’s fouth set of Community Practice Notes published in July 2017 focus on people in precarious work. The community practice notes in this series highlight the struggles many vulnerable people face in earning a livelihood, including poor working conditions, long hours, low pay, and the insecurity associated with part time, temporary or informal employment.
The first community practice note in the Making a Living Series is:
1. Abattoir Workers: Unfair Labour Practices and Anti-Union Strategies in Robertson
Abattoir Workers: Unfair Labour Practices and Anti-Union Strategies in Robertson is the first in the Making a Living Series of community practice notes. It details the struggles of a group of abattoir workers against unfair labour practices in Robertson. The workers were forced to work significant amounts of overtime (much more than the legal limit) and were dismissed when they resisted these unlawful practices. The community practice note documents their struggles to unionise and vindicate their rights in court.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the working conditions at an abattoir in Robertson; summarises the key events in the abattoir workers' struggle; and examines the strategies workers used to defend their rights. It is available in English and Afrikaans.
- Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa: Linkages to Livelihood Creation, Informal Sector Development and Economic Opportunity Generation (November 2012)
This working paper was initially prepared by SERI for the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) as part of a larger project funded by the Ford Foundation. To read the CDE report entitled “Learning to Listen: Communicating The Value of Urbanisation and Informal Settlement Upgrading” see here. This working paper provides an up-to-date overview of the current landscape with regard to informal settlement upgrading in South Africa, particularly the linkages between informal settlement upgrading, livelihood creation, informal sector development and economic opportunity generation. The paper was written by Kate Tissington.