On 18 January 2018, Ground Up reported on a recent ground-breaking judgment in the North Gauteng High Court against Ekurhuleni municipality for the municipality's 17-year delay in building state-subsidised houses for 133 residents of the Winnie Mandela informal settlement near Tembisa. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) represented the residents of Winnie Mandela informal settlement in the case.
In the judgment, handed down on 15 December 2017, judge Mmonoa Teffo found that Ekurhuleni had failed to provide the residents with houses that were constructed with their government-approved housing subsidies. The houses were instead occupied by other, unknown people, often as a result of corruption in the housing allocation process, which Ekurhuleni controls. This, the court found, breached the residents’ constitutional and statutory housing rights.
Ground Up hails the case as a significant victory for residents of informal settlements whose housing subsidy applications have been approved. It states that "[t]he judgment is a timely reminder that the state cannot drag its feet to provide such people with homes" and that the "failure to provide a reasonable explanation for misallocation of houses will not be tolerated by the courts".
SERI is delighted to welcome Amanda Duma to our team as a candidate attorney. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and is currently completing her Master of Laws (LLM) with the same institution.
She has an interest in human rights law. Her passion lies in protecting the rights of indigent members of the South African society and using the law as a tool to bring about social change. We look forward to her contribution to our work.
Three new working papers on the rights to housing, water and sanitation, commissioned by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR), have recently been published. The papers are part of a series of papers that aim to examine how far the realisation of socio-economic rights (and related enabling rights) have advanced in South Africa since the advent of democracy.
The papers on the rights to housing, water and sanitation each provide a human rights analysis of the right in question in the South African context by reviewing the legal, policy and functional frameworks governing the right, and undertaking a rights-based fault-line analysis of systemic problems with the realisation of the right. The papers have been published individually and collectively in a publication entitled, Socio-Economic Rights: Progressive Realisation?
The papers were researched and written by various SERI staff members, including Jackie Dugard (chairperson of SERI’s Board of Directors and former SERI researcher), Michael Clark (SERI research associate), Kate Tissington (former SERI researcher) and Stuart Wilson (SERI executive director).
SERI is delighted to welcome Tshepo Skosana to the team. Tshepo holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and is currently completing his Master of Laws (LLM) with the same institution.
He has interests in public interest litigation and strongly holds onto the notion that ‘Justice will prevail.’
We are excited about having him on board and look forward to his contribution to our work.
On 21 December 2017, the Daily Maverick published an opinion piece written by Sumeya Gasa, an investigative journalist working with the Wits Justice Project, about SERI's recent research report, entitled A Double Harm: Police Misuse of Force and Barriers to Necessary Health Care Services (October 2017), which documents the injuries caused by the disproportionate and unlawful use of force by police officers called in to disperse campus-based protest at the University of the Witwatersrand in September to November 2016. The report also deals with the attempts to provide medical assistance to injured protestors, and documents cases in which these efforts were obstructed.
A number of particularly concerning misuses of force took place while police tried to enforce a university-wide curfew. The opinion piece reiterates the report's findings and details further misuses of force. Gasa concludes,
"SERI’s report observes that the presence of police during FMF protests has resulted in long-term trauma – both physical and psychological – rendering public spaces unsafe for protesting individuals and bystanders alike. While the new police commissioner has resolved to remedy the relationship between the police force and the public it aims to serve, only time will tell if this consideration is extended towards the constitutionally enshrined right to protest."