On 22 March, SERI launches its latest working paper entitled, “Turning Off the Tap: Discontinuing Universal Access to Free Basic Water in the City of Johannesburg”. The 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.

  • Download the publication here.
  • Read SERI op-ed on the City of Johannesburg policy here

Knowledge Hub

On Wednesday SERI participated in the Knowledge Hub which forms part of the Understanding Poverty and Inequality in South Africa course offered by UCT’s Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice (GSDPP).

The course was attended by 22 participants representing various government departments including; Social Development (National and Eastern Cape), Health, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Small Business Development amongst others.

The course seeks to provide senior government officials and policy makers with information on current debates within the poverty and inequality discourse. SERI was represented by Edward Molopi and Daiyaan Halim who interacted with the participants about SERI's work.


SERI represents 30 market traders trading near the Mogwase Shopping Complex in Mogwase in the North West.

Transnet approached the High Court in Mafikeng seeking an order to evict the market traders alleging that they are trading on land currently owned by the Republic of South Africa which will soon be transferred and registered in its name.

SERI filed the answering affidavit on behalf of the 30 market traders. SERI argued that the property where the market traders trade does not belong to Transnet. SERI submitted that Transnet as an organ of state is bound to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to dignity and the right to trade of the market traders. Finally, SERI argued that the market traders have been trading on the property since 2000 despite Transnet alleging that it first became aware of the market traders in 2015.

Read more about the case here.


SERI is delighted to welcome Daiyaan Halim to our team as a research intern. Daiyaan holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Politics and Law and Bachelor of Law (LLB) from the University of Johannesburg, and has practised as a litigation and intellectual property attorney. He has participated in local government politics and hopes to contribute to more pragmatic policy in this sphere through his work at SERI.

He is currently completing his Masters in Law (LLM) in International Law and Economics at the University of the Witwatersrand where he is exploring the relationship between socio-economic rights and human capital within developing economies. 

We look forward to his contribution to SERI's work. 

During his reply to the state of the nation address debate in Parliament on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the state was committed to compensating the families of the striking miners who were killed by police on 13 and 16 August 2012 during the Marikana massacre. In August 2012, these workers, with thousands of others, were on strike demanding a living wage when they were killed after police opened fire on them.

Talking from the podium, Ramaphosa said: “We must be prepared‚ as government‚ that where we have failed our people‚ where we have made mistakes‚ we will take steps to correct those mistakes. One of such was the Marikana tragedy which stands out as the darkest moment in the life our young democracy.” He promised that he was personally “determined to play whatever role [he could] in the process of healing and atonement for what happened at Marikana.” 

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), that represents the 36 families of the striking miners who were killed at Marikana (along with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the Wits Law Clinic), welcomes Ramaphosa’s comments and hopes that his promises will lead to action on the part of the state.

If the state is serious about atoning for the Marikana massacre, the families of those killed at Marikana have indicated that a meaningful response will include:

  • A formal and sincere apology to the families of those killed from the Minister of Police for the loss of their loved ones
  • The state has to approach the issue of compensation with an attitude that acknowledges the state’s culpability in the massacre
  • The state must ensure that the police officers responsible for the murder of the mine workers are criminally charged and prosecuted for their actions

If the state takes these steps it will bring much needed closure to the families who feel that they have been abandoned by the South African government.

  • Read the full statement here
  • Read more about the Marikana families’ damages claim against the SAPS here.
  • Read the presentations made by the families of the deceased miners before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry here.

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