For more than 20 years, the Slovo Park community outside Nancefield in Johannesburg were promised access to formal services and housing. On 30 July 2018, after years of government engagement, litigation and court judgments, the community of almost 10 000 people or 3 734 households have access to electricity for the first time.
The electrification of the settlement comes after a court judgment in the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court which compelled the City of Johannesburg to apply to the Gauteng provincial government for funding to upgrade Slovo Park in terms of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) contained in National Housing Code of 2009. In the judgment, Acting Judge Strauss found that the UISP was binding on the City and that its decision “to completely ignore” the policy was “unreasonable”, “not inclusive” and in breach of the housing rights of the Slovo Park residents. The Judge then set aside the City’s plan to relocate the residents, and directed the City to make the appropriate application to the provincial MEC for Human Settlements for a grant to upgrade the Slovo Park informal settlement in situ.
Since 2016, a Slovo Park Task Team has been established to implement the UISP in Slovo Park. The Task Team consists of the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF) (a local community-based organisation), the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), the City of Johannesburg, City Power, and provincial and national government officials from the Department of Human Settlements. The electrification of Slovo Park is the first provision of basic services at the settlement that has been installed in situ after a process of inclusive community participation and in accordance with the UISP.
SERI represented the Slovo Park community during the litigation and participated in Slovo Park Task Team negotiations.