On Wednesday, 10 April 2019, SERI together with the Inner City Federation (ICF) participated in a discussion on the Right to the City in South Africa with second year anthropology students from the University of the Witwatersrand.
In the discussion, SERI’s Edward Molopi and the ICF’s Siyabonga Mahlangu, drew on the two organisations’ work of challenging the exclusion of poor and marginalised communities in the inner city of Johannesburg and provided the students with an introduction to the work of the two organisations.
SERI’s latest community practice note, Inner City Federation: Fighting for Decent Housing in Inner-City Johannesburg, which examines the strategies and tactics used by poor inner-city residents to resist evictions, harassment and displacement was the required reading for the class and forms part of the course curriculum for the second year anthropology class. The course lecturer, Dr. Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, began with providing context on the Right to the City and the struggle for marginalised communities to access dignified housing in the city of Johannesburg. Wilhelm-Solomon further highlighted the difficult living conditions endured by the majority of impoverished communities within the inner city of Johannesburg and the subsequent legal battles they have undergone in order to receive dignified housing.
Molopi and Mahlangu’s input outlined the collective grievances of occupiers in the inner city against the City of Johannesburg which include the City's failure to provide residents with adequate access to basic services. Mahlangu highlighted the harassment endured by occupiers in the inner city during building raids conducted at the City’s instruction, under the guise of curbing criminal activities and removing undocumented migrants from inner city buildings. Molopi further engaged students on housing rights, state obligations to provide housing and the possibilities of expropriation as a tool to alleviate housing challenges in the city.