- Eviction Research Series: Just and Equitable?
The evictions research series is concerned with the way in which the courts have adjudicated evictions. It aims to assess the courts compliance with relevant legislation and case law. In addition, the series maps the spatial distribution of evictions to highlight any areas that face particular vulnerability. This report is the first output in the series. Its focus is eviction cases in the inner city of Johannesburg and its immediate periphery filed at the Johannesburg Central Magistrate’s Court between 2013 and 2018.
1. An analysis of eviction applications in the Johannesburg Central Magistrate's Court and their compliance with the law (March 2022).
This research report is the first in the series Just and Equitable? It analyses eviction cases in 12 wards in the inner city of Johannesburg and its immediate periphery litigated at the Johannesburg Central Magistrate’s Court between 2013 and 2018 and asks whether eviction applications have been examined through the just and equitable lens, as the legislation requires. Even with a relatively small sample, the report makes important findings about: the extent to which evictions law is being followed in the adjudication of cases; whether consideration is being given to the personal circumstances of those being evicted and potential homelessness that might ensue; the reasons why people are being evicted; and the legal representation of respondents. The findings illustrate that a more hands-on approach from the judiciary in adjudicating eviction applications is essential to ensure that the legal protections from arbitrary evictions offered to the poor and vulnerable are realised.
This report was written by Nerishka Singh (lead author) and Yvonne Erasmus. >> Read the full report here.
- Claiming Water Rights in South Africa
The research forms part of the global #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign initiated by End Water Poverty. This research examines how water rights are being claimed in South Africa, with a view to drawing lessons from the work of communities and civil society organisations in a diverse range of circumstances. It consists of four case study reports and a synthesis report which documents, synthesises and analyses the four case studies. The research was conducted in the first half of 2020 just as COVID-19 began to spread in South Africa. Access to water emerged early as integral to combatting the virus, as frequent handwashing is one of the key preventative measures. While the full extent of the impact of COVID-19 on water services in South Africa is still unfolding, the report offers some preliminary observations on this relationship.
1. Claiming water rights in South Africa – synthesis report (August 2020).
This report forms part of the global #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign initiated by End Water Poverty. The purpose of the report is to examine how water rights are being claimed in South Africa, with a view to drawing lessons from the work of communities and civil society organisations in a diverse range of circumstances. To do so, the report documents and analyses four case studies developed using a combination of desktop research methods, drawing on information in the public domain contained in sources such as court documents, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) reports, academic articles and media reports, and interviews conducted with key contacts in each case. The case studies are also published as a series of standalone publications, more detailed than this report.
This report was written by Lisa Chamberlain (lead author), Kelebogile Khunou, Thato Masiangoako and Alana Potter. >> Read the full report here.
2. Case study 1: Farm dwellers fight for access to water in uMgungundlovu district municipality (20 October 2020).
The uMgungundlovu District Municipality is located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It comprises of several local municipalities including uMsunduzi and uMshwathi Local Municipalities. In this report, the municipalities will be referred to as uMgungundlovu, uMsunduzi and uMshwati respectively. The uMgungundlovu region is made up of a mixture of urban and rural areas with the provincial capital Pietermaritzburg falling in uMsunduzi. The StatsSA 2016 Census recorded the population of the uMgungundlovu region as 1,095,865 people comprising 300,953 households. uMgungundlovu is an ambitious municipality. Its vision, which is frequently quoted on its website and in all its reports, is to “evolve into a dynamic metropolitan municipality, spreading its vibrant economic benefits to all its citizens and places and will, through concerted integrated development and service delivery, realise improvements in the overall quality of life.” It hopes to unite its seven local municipalities into a single metro by the next local government elections in 2021. uMgungundlovu is both a Water Services Authority (WSA) and a Water Services Provider (WSP). uMsunduzi has also been designated as a WSA. Approximately 80% of people in the uMgungundlovu region get their water from the municipality or other WSPs, while the remaining 20% use boreholes, rainwater tanks, dams, rivers or water vendors.
This report was written by Lisa Chamberlain (lead author), Kelebogile Khunou, Thato Masiangoako and Alana Potter. >> Read the full report here.
3. Case study 2: Residents of Marikana informal settlement use expropriation as a tool (September 2020).
This case study of the Marikana informal settlement is the second of four case studies. It illustrates how expropriation in terms of the Housing Act 107 of 1997 (the Housing Act) can be utilised as a tool to widen access to urban land for poor people and to provide them with services. The Marikana informal settlement in Cape Town is home to over 60 000 people. For years, the residents of Marikana have persistently and innovatively engaged in a diversity of strategies to improve their living conditions. These strategies have included community mobilisation, engagement with the authorities, protest, self-supply, and ultimately, precedent-setting litigation in the Fischer case which is the first case in South Africa to examine the possibilities of expropriation in terms of the Housing Act.
This report was written by Lisa Chamberlain (lead author), Kelebogile Khunou, Thato Masiangoako and Alana Potter. >> Read the full report here.
4. Case study 3: Makana local municipality – provincial intervention in a municipal crisis (3 November 2020).
The Makana case study is about a municipality in crisis. It has faced various challenges related to service delivery, administration, and finances, many of which have recurred over long periods of time. The crisis includes water outages, water quality problems, near non-existent road maintenance, failure to collect refuse timeously and the inability to manage waste sites and illegal dumping. Water supply across the municipality, and in Makhanda in particular, has been crippled by a combination of aging infrastructure desperately in need of repairs and severe drought over the past four years which has almost emptied a number of dams on which Makhanda relies for its water supply.
This report was written by Lisa Chamberlain (lead author), Kelebogile Khunou, Thato Masiangoako and Alana Potter. >> Read the full report here.
5.Case study 4: Maluti-a-Phofung – a community doing it for themselves (17 November 2020).
The Maluti-a-Phofung reflects on the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders in Maluti-a-Phofung – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes – who, in the face of continued poor service delivery by local government took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure. The provision of basic services in Intabazwe, Harrismith and surrounds had deteriorated steadily over the past decade, fuelled by political in-fighting, crippling debt and the collapse of governance and administration within Maluti-a-Phofung municipality.
This report was written by Lisa Chamberlain (lead author), Kelebogile Khunou, Thato Masiangoako and Alana Potter. >> Read the full report here.
- 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.
- Edged Out: Spatial Mismatch and Spatial Justice in South Africa's Main Urban Centres (December 2016)
South Africa’s cities are exclusionary spaces where the combined influences of unchallenged market forces and an Apartheid past mean poor people are confined to urban peripheries. They are also places of great dynamism and have significant potential for development. This report uses statistical analysis and national spatial data on local unemployment rates and the distribution of jobs to investigate spatial mismatch in South Africa’s major urban centres. It finds that there is a significant relationship between physical proximity to jobs and local unemployment rates, which implies that housing located far away from job opportunities acts as a poverty trap. The state and city governments should proactively intervene in housing markets to provide well located and affordable housing for the poor. This will be central to dismantling the “Apartheid city”, and moving towards urban spatial justice. In addition to the report, we have published a longer technical report, which includes a more in-depth presentation of our method and results. The report was written by Joshua Budlender and Lauren Royston. Joshua Budlender wrote the technical report. >>Read the report here, and read the technical report here.
- Evictions and Alternative Accommodation in South Africa 2000-2016: An Analysis of the Jurisprudence and Implications for Local Government (March 2016)
This report, which builds on a first edition published in 2013, responds to the fact that neither property owners nor municipalities have fully come to terms with the significant paradigm shift in the law relating to eviction and urban regeneration. Despite years of litigation and a host of progressive court judgments, which have substantially contributed to the constitutional right of access to adequate housing, municipalities like the City of Johannesburg are still failing to fulfill their duties in relation to evictions and the provision of alternative accommodation. The report includes the latest developments in the law relating to housing rights and evictions and aims to highlight what they have contributed towards South Africa's housing and evictions jurisprudence. The first edition was written by Michael Clark. Stuart Wilson updated the case law and analysed its implications for the second edition. >>Read the full report here.
Tenure Security in Informal Settlements on Customary Land (December 2015)
SERI worked with the Housing Development Agency in the course of 2015 on a research project on securing tenure in informal settlements on customary land. It involved in-depth research in four informal settlements in four provinces and culminated in a set of recommendations for the HDA and other role players. One of the key issues identified in the research was lack of awareness about IPILRA rights (the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act) among the key stakeholders. >>Read the full report here.
- Minding the Gap: An Analysis of the Supply of and Demand for Low-Income Rental Accommodation in Inner City Johannesburg (November 2013)
This research report highlights the gap in the demand for and supply of low-income rental accommodation in inner city Johannesburg. From research into the supply of formal rental accommodation in the inner city, it is clear that there are no permanent options available to those earning below R3 200 per month. This comprises almost 50% of all households in the inner city, who can afford rent of R900 or less per month. While there are a few institutions providing state-subsidised social housing at lower rentals, these institutions are extremely oversubscribed and there is almost no social housing actually available or affordable to people. The City argues that poor and low-income people should access informal accommodation in shared units at cheaper rentals. However even this informal accommodation is unaffordable to many people, with living arrangements overcrowded with a lack of privacy and security of tenure. The report argues that the most significant intervention the City should be making in the inner city is an affordable, accessible rental housing programme that responds to the needs of the majority of residents. This report was written by Kate Tissington. >>Read the full report here and the summary here.
- Evictions and Alternative Accommodation in South Africa: An Analysis of the Jurisprudence and Implications for Local Government (November 2013)
The jurisprudence of the South African courts (especially the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal) has significantly contributed to the right of access to adequate housing, enshrined in section 26 of the Constitution. The courts have supplemented the legal framework by developing a number of progressive legal principles that should be upheld in eviction cases. The jurisprudence has therefore led to the development of a new cluster of relationships between the parties involved in eviction proceedings, a cluster of relationships that is characterised by a series of rights and obligations pertaining to various parties. Yet despite years of litigation and a host of progressive judgments municipalities have been hesitant, unwilling or unable to act on the obligations laid down in case law. It is amid this complexity that this report seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of the jurisprudence on evictions and alternative accommodation, and the contingent obligations on municipalities in respect of the provision of alternative accommodation. It is hoped that the report might act as a to guide activists, communities and public interest law practitioners caught up in eviction related struggles, as well as local government officials who are tasked with devising and implementing housing policy. This report was written by Michael Clark. >>Read the report here and the summaryhere.
- Targeting the Poor? An Analysis of Free Basic Services (FBS) and Municipal Indigent Policies in South Africa(November 2013)
This research report provides an overview of the law and policies relevant to free basic services (FBS) and municipal indigent policies in South Africa. It details the regulations and strategies around FBS - free basic water (FBW), free basic electricity (FBE), free basic sanitation (FBSan) and free basic refuse removal (BRR) - and examines the framework policy and implementation guidelines for municipal indigent policies. The report also contains a survey of 137 municipal indigent policies in South Africa that highlights the numerous problems encountered with the implementation of indigent policies and the provision of FBS, including: targeting methods of FBS, municipal systems of indigent application, conditionalities attached to indigent status and FBS, and FBS amount provided. The report finds that indigent policies tend to restrict FBS to people who already own property, when the greatest need exists among those who do not. The application and documentation requirements to access indigency support are excessive, and the system is designed to restrict rather than expand access to FBS. While the professed aim of the indigent framework is to “target” the poor for the provision of basic services, its overall effect is to target them for exclusion. This report was written by Kate Tissington. >>Read the report here and the summary here.
- ‘Jumping the Queue’, Waiting Lists and other Myths: Perceptions and Practice around Housing Demand and Allocation in South Africa (April 2013)
This research report by the Community Law Centre and SERI 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. Politicians and officials responsible for housing policy, at all levels of the state, have sought to create the impression that housing allocation is a rational process, which prioritises those in the greatest need, and those who have been waiting for a subsidised house the longest. The ideologically (and emotionally) charged concepts of ‘the waiting list’ and ‘the housing queue’ are emblematic of this. However, the situation is far more complicated. This report 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. >>Read the main reporthere and the executive summary here.
Relocations have the potential to severely disrupt peoples’ lives and negatively impact their livelihoods, community relations and sense of security. To make sure this doesn’t happen, the relocation process should be carefully planned, well-run and participatory. SERI developed this set of legal and practical guidelines to assist those involved in the relocation process to navigate the complexities involved in planning for and carrying out a relocation. The guidelines present an approach to relocations based on SERI’s experience in planning and managing relocations to alternative housing and draw on international and local experience. The guidelines offer practical guidance on how to ensure that relocations are carried out in a way that respects the constitutional rights of the people being relocated. This guide was written by Michael Clark and Lauren Royston.
- Protection Against Eviction under the Extension of Security of Tenure Act: Legal Rules, Principles and Process (July 2017)
This is a user-friendly guide that explains the rights of farm dwellers and the law in relation to evictions from farmland. It gives advice on how farm dwellers can navigate the legal processes involved in eviction proceedings and practically resist evictions. It is a resource for farm dwellers facing eviction from their homes, as well as for farm worker unions, community-based paralegals and lawyers. The guide was developed by SERI and the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU), and written by Tim Fish Hodgson and Dasantha Pillay.
The guide is also accompanied by five information sheets available in English and Afrikaans:
- Fact sheet 1: Does ESTA protect my rights?/ Beskerm die Wet op Verblyfreg?
- Fact sheet 2: What does ESTA mean by consent?/ Wat bedoel die Wet op Verblyfreg met toestemming?
- Fact sheet 3: Who is an occupier under ESTA?/ Wat is ‘n okkupeerder in terme van die Wet op Verblyfreg?
- Fact sheet 4: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)/ Gereelde vrae.
- Fact sheet 5: The Rights of ESTA occupiers/ ESTA okkupeerders se regtes.
- Fact sheet 6: What is the role of the municipality and DALRRD?/ Wat is die rol van munisipaliteite en DALRRD?
This guide explains the sale-in-execution process and sets out what steps homeowners can take to avoid their houses being sold in execution. Courts are legally required to make sure that sales-in-execution follow the proper legal process and that the interests of both homeowners and banks are balanced and protected. The laws which regulate sales-in-execution are complex and come from many sources. This guide will help homeowners prevent sales-in-execution before they happen. It will also help homeowners oppose sales in execution if the process to repossess their home is already underway, or if they have already lost their homes. This guide is a resource for individuals and households who are facing the threat of a sale in execution of their homes, as well as for community-based paralegals and lawyers who deal with sales in execution of people’s homes or bank repossessions. This guide was written by Michael Clark.
This guide explains your rights and the law regarding evictions, and gives practical advice on how to resist them. It is a resource for individuals, households and communities who are facing eviction from their homes, as well as for community-based paralegals, CBOs, social movements etc. The guide covers a number of different issues: what is an eviction, what the law says about evictions, when an eviction is unlawful, the lawful process for an eviction, how to oppose a lawful eviction, and how to resist an unlawful eviction. It is one of the resources in the Dear Mandela Toolkit, aimed at informing individuals, communities and CBOs of their rights.
- A Tenant's Guide to Rental Housing (October 2013)
This guide was developed by SERI and the Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment Studies (CUBES) based at Wits University, and is meant to help tenants. It is structured in three sections which cover the start, duration and end of the landlord-tenant relationship. In each of these sections there are a number of questions which tenants have often asked SERI or CUBES when they have come to us for support. The answers provided are meant to assist tenants to protect themselves against unfair and illegal conduct by landlords and to understand when the law says that a tenant is acting unfairly and illegally.
This booklet was developed because of difficulties faced trying to access laws and regulations on landlord-tenant relations and rental housing in South Africa. It includes the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999 and the Gauteng Unfair Practices Regulations, 2001, which are printed in full together with some guidelines to help readers navigate the content. The booklet is meant to be a companion to another SERI guide: A Tenant’s Guide to Rental Housing. The contents of both booklets have been approved by a lawyer who specialises in housing law. The booklet also provides summaries of two important Constitutional Court judgments which relate to rent increases and unfair lease terminations (Maphango), and electricity disconnections and notice (Joseph). It also summarises a recent decision of the Rental Housing Tribunal on electricity service charges (Jele).
- A Guide to Sectional Title in South Africa (October 2013)
This guide was developed by SERI and the Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment Studies (CUBES) based at Wits University. The law relating to sectional title schemes can be quite confusing. This guide tries to provide a brief description and explanation of the main legal issues that those involved in sectional title schemes should be aware of. This guide is structured in two sections. The first section deals with a number of key questions that are commonly raised by people involved in sectional title schemes. The answers provided are meant to assist sectional title owners, trustees and body corporates to better understand the legal rules that apply to sectional title schemes. The second section lays out how certain disputes and challenges that come up in sectional title schemes should be dealt with.
This resource guide aims to provide a simplified yet comprehensive overview of legislation, policy, programmes and practice relating to basic sanitation in South Africa. The guide focuses on access to household sanitation by poor communities. While some progress has been made since 1994 in terms of the provision of basic sanitation, challenges remain in the formulation and implementation of policy by municipalities. The guide does not claim to be an exhaustive analysis of legislation, policy and practice; however aims to outline the legislative and policy framework, highlight key challenges faced by various departments and communities, and provide a tool for those working on sanitation issues in South Africa e.g. social movements, community-based organisations (CBOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), lawyers, development practitioners, planners, government officials, academics, scholars etc. This guide was written by Kate Tissington.
A Resource Guide to Housing in South Africa 1994 - 2010: Legislation, Policy, Programmes and Practice (February 2011)
This resource guide provides an overview of housing legislation, jurisprudence, policy, programmes and practice in South Africa since 1994. As with other socio-economic rights, the legislative and policy framework created by national government around housing is in fact quite progressive. However, implementation to date has been skewed and unable to address the land, housing and basic services needs of millions of poor South Africans who still lack adequate housing and access to water, sanitation and electricity. The report explicitly focuses on access to housing in the urban context. It provides a simplified yet comprehensive guide to policies, legislation, jurisprudence and practice in relation to urban housing in South Africa, which will hopefully be useful to a wide audience that includes social movements, CBOs, NGOs, lawyers, development practitioners, planners, government officials, academics, scholars etc. This guide was written by Kate Tissington.
Policy Brief: Adequate Temporary Alternative Accommodation (July 2020)
This policy brief sets out a proposed approach to municipal provision of alternative accommodation. The law requires that municipalities provide temporary alternative accommodation when evictions lead to homelessness. However, municipalities have been slow to develop proactive alternative accommodation programmes in response to the case law. The accommodation that has been provided, generally compelled by court orders, is insufficient. Management of temporary alternative accommodation has been inadequate and certain models, such as the managed care model, are constitutionally offensive. This policy brief aims to fill the gap by reviewing evictions law and its implications for municipalities, setting out a proposed approach to municipal provision of alternative accommodation and discussing the need for a national framework.
Affordable Public Rental Housing (July 2016)
A public rental housing programme is needed to bridge the gap between the demand for and supply of affordable rental accommodation in South Africa’s higher density urban centres. No formal rental options exist in either the social or private rental sector that accommodate the majority of poorer urban households' needs for rental accommodation. The up-front capital costs, ongoing operating expenditure, availability of building stock and management model are four aspects of the proposed programme addressed in this policy brief.
Women with Disabilities and Informal Settlement Sanitation (August 2019)
People with disabilities living in informal settlements are among the most vulnerable and marginalised in the country. Informal settlements are characterised by severe poverty and unemployment, and are poorly served with water, sanitation and other essential services. This report seeks to raise awareness of the challenges women with disabilities living in informal settlements face in accessing adequate water and sanitation, and to propose actions to ensure safe, dignified services.
The report is a product of the project “Sanitation for Women with Disabilities living in Informal Settlements” led by the SERI in partnership with the Pegasys Institute and Twospinningwheels Productions. It is a companion piece to the short film “The Struggle to be Ordinary: Sanitation for Women with Disabilities in Informal Settlements”.
The report was written by Kelebogile Khunou (SERI researcher), Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy) and Barbara Schreiner (Pegasys Institute former executive director). >>Read the full report here.
Community Practice Notes
Informal Settlement Series
SERI’s first community practice notes published in August 2014 are a series on informal settlement struggles for development, in which we examine how community-based organisations (CBOs) in four informal settlements in South Africa have organised and mobilised for development, particularly around the in situ upgrading of informal settlements. The series documents and analyses the relationship between evictions, development, community organisation and mobilisation, local politics, protest and the use of courts.
The four community practice notes making up the Informal Settlement Series are:
1. Makause: Resisting Relocation on the East Rand
Makause: Resisting Relocation on the East Rand is the first in the Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. Makause informal settlement is located in the suburb of Primrose in Germiston, which falls within the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in the Gauteng province. The settlement was established in the mid-1990s after retrenched mine workers occupied the abandoned vacant site, known as Driefontein Farm. Some residents have lived at the settlement for over 20 years.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the settlement; summarises the key events in the struggle to resist eviction and push for development at the settlement; and examines the strategies and tactics of the local community structure, the Makause Community Development Forum (Macodefo).
2. Rooigrond: Community Struggle in the North West
Rooigrond: Community Struggle in the North West is the second in SERI’s Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. Rooigrond informal settlement is located in ward 27 of Mahikeng Local Municipality in the North West province. It is a rural settlement informally divided into two sections and comprising approximately 600 households (1 500 people) living mainly in shacks, but also in mud and brick houses.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the settlement; summarises the key events in the struggle to resist relocation and push for development in the context of broader political struggles, inter-governmental relations failures and protest in the North West province; and examines the strategies and tactics of the local community structure, the Rooigrond Committee.
3. Thembelihle: Engaging an Unresponsive State
Thembelihle: Engaging an Unresponsive State is the third in SERI’s Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. Thembelihle informal settlement is located to the south-west of Johannesburg in the suburb of Lenasia, within the City of Johannesburg. The settlement was established on municipal-owned land in the mid-1980s by rural migrants and employees of a brick manufacturing company. Some residents have lived at the settlement for over 20 years. Currently between 7 000 and 8 000 households reside at the settlement.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the settlement; summarises the key events in the struggle to resist relocation and promote in situ upgrading; and examines the strategies and tactics of the local community structure, the Thembelihle Crisis Committee (TCC).
4. Slovo Park: Twenty Years of Broken Promises
Slovo Park: Twenty Years of Broken Promises is the fourth in SERI’s Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. Slovo Park informal settlement is located next to the Nancefield industrial area, between Eldorado Park and Bushkoppies in the City of Johannesburg. Slovo Park consists of around 3 700 households (approximately 7 000 people) living on more than 1 000 informal stands. The settlement was established in the early 1990s by people who moved to the site in search of land close to their jobs.
This community practice notes provides a brief background to the settlement; summarises the key events in the struggle to push for upgrading at the settlement; and examines the strategies and tactics of the local community structure, the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF).
Slovo Park: Some Gains At Last (second edition)
Slovo Park: Some Gains At Last is the second edition of the fourth publication in SERI’s Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. The second edition of the community practice note is a continuation of Slovo Park’s story since receiving a High Court Judgment from the Gauteng Local Division that ordered the City of Johannesburg to upgrade Slovo Park in situ. This edition documents the SPCDF’s strategies and tactics to implement their court order in collaboration with government through the establishment of a multi-stakeholder TaskTeam that facilitated the installation of electricity and continues to engage around the upgrading and layout plan.
Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series
SERI’s second set of Community Practice Notes published in July 2016 are a series on struggles for access to adequate housing in inner city Johannesburg. They highlight the histories of resisting evictions and the ongoing challenges faced by people in the relocation sites where alternative accommodation has been provided by the City of Johannesburg.
The three community practice notes making up the Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series are:
From San Jose to MBV 1 is the first in the Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series of community practice notes. San Jose is a block of flats in Berea, Johannesburg, which was built in the 1960s. The City of Johannesburg sought to evict the occupants before the Constitutional Court ordered it to provide them with alternative accommodation in a case known as Olivia Road. The City provided the occupants with alternative accommodation in two buildings, called MBV 1 and Old Perm.
This Community Practice Note documents experiences of residents at MBV 1. It provides a brief background to San Jose, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of life at MBV 1 and provides some conclusions regarding the provision of alternative accommodation.
From Carr Street to MOTH is the second in the Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series of community practice notes. Residents of the Dina Glassware building, a derelict building on Carr Street in Newtown, resisted illegal attempts at eviction before they were fporced to relocate after a fire in the building. Residents were relocated to MOTH, a three floor building with a basement, with a large communal kitchen and dining room. Each floor is essentially a large empty hall with no sub-divisions.
This Community Practice Note provides a brief background to the Carr Street building, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of life at the MOTH building and provides some conclusions regarding the provision of alternative accommodation.
3. From Saratoga Avenue to MBV 2 and Ekuthuleni
From Saratoga Avenue to MBV 2 and Ekuthuleni is the third in the Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series of community practice notes. In the court cases known as Blue Moonlight and Dladla, the occupants of 7 Saratoga Avenue, a commercial property in Berea, were provided with alternative accommodation in two buildings, called MBV2 and Ekuthuleni.
This Community Practice Note provides a brief background to the Saratoga Avenue building, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of life at MBV 2 and Ekuthuleni and provides some conclusions regarding the provision of alternative accommodation.
Informal Settlement Relocation Series
SERI’s third set of Community Practice Notes published in July 2016 are a series on informal settlement relocation. It highlights community struggles for access to adequate housing and how people experience the relocations that follow court processes regarding the provision of alternative accommodation.
The two community practice notes making up the Informal Settlement Relocation Series are:
1. From Marie Louise to “Rugby Club”
From Marie Louise to "Rugby Club" is the first in the Informal Settlement Relocation Series of community practice notes. The Marie Louise informal settlement is located 15 kilometres to the west of the Johannesburg CBD. After resisitng various illegal evictions, the High Court ordered that the City of Johannesburg relocate the to alternative accommodation at a nearby site called "Rugby Club".
This Community Practice Note provides a brief background to the Marie Louise informal settlement, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of the relocation to the Rugby Club site, and provides some conclusions regarding informal settlement relocation.
2. From Taylor Road to Ruimsig and Fleurhof
From Taylor Road to Ruimsig and Fleurhof is the second in the Informal Settlement Relocation Series of community practice notes. The residents of Taylor Road informal settlement in Honeydew were relocated to two seperate locations after being evicted by the owner of the property and lengthy engagements with the City of Johannesburg on the provision of alternative accommodation. The community engaged both in and out of the courts.
This Community Practice Note provides a brief background to the Taylor Road informal settlement, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of the relocation to Ruimsig and Fleurhof and provides some conclusions regarding informal settlement relocation.
Social Movement Series
SERI’s fifth set of Community Practice Notes published in November 2017 examines different social movements and community-based networks advocating for socio-economic development for poor and vulnerable people in different contexts in South Africa. The series assesses how social movements and community-based networks have organised and mobilised to advocate for decent, well-located housing, and protect and strengthen the tenure rights of low-income people.
The first community practice note in the series is:
1. Inner City Federation: Fighting for Decent Housing in Inner-City Johannesburg
Inner City Federation: Fighting for Decent Housing in Inner-City Johannesburg examines the strategies and tactics of the Inner City Federation (ICF), a self-organising coalition of tenants and unlawful occupiers from over 40 buildings in inner-city Johannesburg that advocates for housing and basic services, and challenges the stigma associated with low-income inner-city residents.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the challenges facing low-income tenants and unlawful occupiers in inner-city Johannesburg. It also summarises the key events in the struggles of poor inner-city residents to resist evictions, harassment and displacement; establish and maintain effective self-management structures in dilapidated buildings; collectively mobilise; and advocate for decent housing.
2. Abahlali baseMjondolo: Living Politics
Abahlali baseMjondolo: Living Politics is the second publication in SERI’s fifth series on social movements and community‑based organisations engaged in struggles to protect socio-economic rights.
It documents Abahlali baseMjondolo’s history, the social movement’s strategies and tactics for advancing their objectives and how it has survived repeated and varied forms of state violence. It tells a story of how Abahlali baseMjondolo has responded to evictions and repression in a highly charged political context and the price the movement and its members have paid for organising outside of formal politics and challenging the state. This CPN also memorialises the 24 lives lost by Abahlali baseMjondolo between 2009 and 2022.
The CPN is also accompanied by English and isiZulu executive summaries.
This paper adopts Section 25 (6) 2 and Sections 26 (1), (2) and (3) 3 of the Constitution as its starting points. Shortly after the Constitution was enacted, a set of tenure security laws were enacted to give immediate effect to Section 25 (6), pending the development of legislation providing permanent, positive rights.4 The Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (the PIE Act), which gave effect to section 26 (3), is one of these laws. The long-term legislation has not yet been developed. The summary report further recommends that the Department of Public Works also has a role to play in making better use of existing instruments, as it is responsible for land expropriation. Expropriation should be used to secure the tenure of a person or community living without it because of past racially discriminatory laws or practices. They should be able to request the Minister to consider whether to expropriate the land on which they reside for their benefit.
This paper adopts the redistribution clause in section 25 (5) of the Constitution as its starting point: “the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.” On this basis SERI argues, in line with the Presidential Advisory Panel and High-Level Panel reports, that a law should be developed and enacted which gives effect to section 25(5) and that the in order to operationalise the approach we propose a process for fine-tuning urban equitable access principles, the main legislative measure (the Framework Act) and the policy measures (the various programmes). The summary report further recommends that expropriation should be employed as a significant mechanism in urban land redistribution. The voices of the urban landless should be heard on what land should be expropriated and when, either directly or indirectly. Ordinary South Africans and communities, who have not been able to gain access to land on an equitable basis, should be able to approach the Minister of Public Works to consider expropriation.
- Turning off the tap: Discontinuing Universal Access to Free Basic Water in the City of Johannesburg (2018).
This paper looks at the City of Johannesburg’s March 2017 decision to withdraw the universal provision of free basic water and its implications for the poor and their right of access to sufficient water. Since July 2017 only households registered as indigent can access 6 kilolitres of free basic water per month, the basic minimum as stipulated in national policy and legislation. The paper reviews policy and legislation regarding the provision of free basic water services in South Africa and summarises international lessons about narrow versus universal provision of social benefits. The paper concludes that the City should reconsider its decision to withdraw the universal provision of free basic water as it constitutes an unreasonable, regressive step in the realisation of the right to sufficient water.
This paper provides a human rights analysis of the right to housing in South Africa, first reviewing the legal, policy and functional frameworks governing housing, before undertaking a rights-based fault-line analysis of the systemic problems. The paper focuses on urban and peri-urban areas. It is part of a series of papers commissioned by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) in terms of which scholars and experts examine how far the realisation of socio-economic rights have advanced in South Africa. The paper was written by Jackie Dugard, with Michael Clark, Kate Tissington and Stuart Wilson.
This paper assesses the situation pertaining to basic water services in South Africa, first reviewing the legal, policy and functional frameworks, before undertaking a rights-based fault-line analysis of the systemic problems. It is part of a series of papers commissioned by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) in terms of which scholars and experts examine how far the realisation of socio-economic rights have advanced in South Africa. The paper was written by Jackie Dugard.
This paper assesses the situation pertaining to basic sanitation services in South Africa by reviewing the legal, policy and functional frameworks, and undertaking a rights-based fault-line analysis of the systemic problems. It is part of a series of papers commissioned by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) in terms of which scholars and experts examine how far the realisation of socio-economic rights have advanced in South Africa. The paper was written by Jackie Dugard.
- 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.
- Shields and Swords: Legal Tools for Public Water (June 2012)
This Occasional Paper was prepared for the Municipal Services Project (MSP). The paper examines and draws lessons from water campaigns’ legal strategies around the world, some of which have transformed national laws and banned private provision, while others were partial victories. The paper looks at six cases of citizen-backed referenda and litigation, offering a comparative and global perspective. This paper was written by Jackie Dugard and Kay Drage.
- Towards a Synthesis of the Political, Social and Technical in Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa: A Case Study of Slovo Park Informal Settlement, Johannesburg (April 2011)
This working paper presents a number of findings from ongoing research conducted by SERI on informal settlement upgrading and access to well-located land for the poor in South African cities. Specifically, this paper provides a detailed case study on Slovo Park informal settlement in Johannesburg, and the numerous attempts made by the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF) to bring about upgrading and development at the settlement over the past 17 years. This working paper was written by Kate Tissington.
In 2010, SERI was approached by the Studies on Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII) to undertake a review of housing policy in South Africa since 1994. This research formed part of a broader SPII research project to compile a measurement matrix of progressive realisation of the socio-economic rights enshrined in the South African Constitution.
- Michael Clark and Liza Rose Cirolia (2018) "Briefing Paper on Urban Land Rights", SERI and African Centre for Cities (ACC) Briefing Paper.
- Lauren Royston, Nthabiseng Nkhatau and Alana Potter (2017) "Towards a Measure of Spatial Justice in South African Cities: Spatial Mismatch and SPLUMA" in South African Cities Network The Urban Land Paper Series Vol 2: A Transit-Orientated Development Lens, pp. 32-40.
- Edward Molopi & Tiffany Ebrahim (2017) "Spatial Justice: Accountability through Collaboration and Confrontation" in Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) Navigating Accountability and Collaboration in Local Governance, pp. 53-61.
- Michael Clark and Kate Tissington (2016) "Courts as a Site of Struggle for Informal Settlement Upgrading" in Liza Cirolia, Tristan Görgens, Mirjam van Donk, Warren Smit and Scott Drimie (eds) Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa: A Partnership-Based Approach (UCT Press), pp. 376-391.
- Stuart Wilson, Jackie Dugard and Michael Clark (2015) “Conflict Management in an era of Urbanisation: Twenty Years of Housing Rights in the Constitutional Court” South African Journal on Human Rights vol. 31(3), pp. 472-503.
- Jackie Dugard (2014) "Beyond Blue Moonlight: The Implications of Judicial Avoidance in Relation to the Provision of Alternative Housing" Constitutional Court Review vol. 5, pp. 265-279.
- Stuart Wilson (2014) "Curing the Poor: State Housing Policy in Johannesburg after Blue Moonlight" Constitutional Court Review vol. 5, pp. 279-295.
- Jackie Dugard (2013) “Urban Basic Services in South Africa: Rights, Reality and Resistance” in Malcolm Langford, Ben Cousins, Jackie Dugard & Tshepo Madlingozi (eds) Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa: Symbols or Substance? (Cambridge University Press).
- Cathy Albisa, Brittany Scott and Kate Tissington (2012) "Demolishing Housing Rights in the Name of Market Fundamentalism: The Dynamics of Displacement in the United States, India and South Africa" in L Minkler (ed) The State of Economic and Social Human Rights: A Global Overview (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
- Jackie Dugard (2011) “Choice from No Choice; Rights for the Left? The State, Law and the Struggle against Prepayment Water Meters in South Africa” in S C Motta and A G Nilsen (eds) Social Movements in the Global South: Dispossession, Development and Resistance (Palgrave Macmillan).
- Kate Tissington and Stuart Wilson (2011) "SCA upholds rights of urban poor in Blue Moonlight judgment" ESR Review vol. 12(2), pp. 3-6.
- Stuart Wilson (2011) "Litigating Housing Rights in Johannesburg's Inner City: 2004-2008", first published in the special issue of the South African Journal on Human Rights on Public Interest Litigation vol. 27 pp. 127-151 © Juta & Co (access the Juta catalogue here).
- Stuart Wilson (2011) "Planning for Inclusion in South Africa: The State's Duty to Prevent Homelessness and the Potential of 'Meaningful Engagement'" Urban Forum vol. 22(3).
- Kate Tissington (2011) “Demolishing Development at Gabon Informal Settlement: Public Interest Litigation Beyond Modderklip?” first published in the special issue of the South African Journal on Human Rights on Public Interest Litigation vol. 27 pp. 192-205 © Juta & Co (access the Juta catalogue here).
- Lilian Chenwi and Kate Tissington (2010) "Engaging meaningfully with government in the realisation of socio-economic rights in South Africa: A focus on the right to housing” (Community Law Centre (CLC) and SERI Resource Guide).
- Jackie Dugard (June 2010) "Civic action and the legal mobilisation: The Phiri water meters case" in Jeff Handmaker and Remko Berkhout (eds) Mobilising Social Justice in South Africa: Perspectives from Researchers and Practitioners, pp. 71-99 (The Hague: ISS and Hivos).
- Jackie Dugard (April 2010) "Can Human Rights Transcend the Commercialization of Water in South Africa? Soweto’s Legal Fight for an Equitable Water Policy” Review of Radical Political Economics vol. 42, p. 175.
- Jackie Dugard and Nthabiseng Mohlakoana (2009) “More Work for Women: A Rights-Based Analysis of Women’s Access to Basic Services in South Africa”, first published in the South African Journal on Human Rights vol. 25(3) pp. 546-572 © Juta & Co (access the Juta catalogue here).
- Jackie Dugard (2009) “Rights, Regulation and Resistance: The Phiri Water Rights Campaign”, first published in the South African Journal on Human Rights vol. 24(3), pp. 593-611 © Juta & Co (access the Juta catalogue here).
- Stuart Wilson (2009) "Breaking the Tie: Evictions, Homelessness and the New Normality" South African Law Journal vol. 126(2), pp. 270-290.
- Lilian Chenwi and Kate Tissington (September 2009) "'Sacrificial lambs' in the quest to eradicate informal settlements: the plight of Joe Slovo residents", ESR Review vol. 10(3).
- Kate Tissington (May 2009) "Forever a Pipedream? Faultlines around Water Services Delivery at the Local Level" Local Government Bulletin vol. 11(1).
- Jackie Dugard (2008) “Power to the People?: A rights-based analysis of South Africa’s electricity policy framework” in David Macdonald (ed) Electric Capitalism: Recolonizing Africa on the Power Grid, pp. 264-287 (Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council).
- Patrick Bond and Jackie Dugard (2008) “Water, Human Rights and Social Conflict: South African Experiences”, Law, Social Justice and Global Development vol. 1.
- Kate Tissington (June 2008) “Challenging inner city evictions before the Constitutional Court of South Africa: The Occupiers of 51 Olivia Road case”, Housing and ESC Rights Law Quarterly vol. 5(2).
- Stuart Wilson (2006) "Judicial Enforcement of the Right to Protection from Arbitrary Eviction: Lessons from Mandelaville", first published in the South African Journal on Human Rights vol. 22(4) pp. 535-562 © Juta & Co (access the Juta catalogue here).