WHAT: On 22 May 2018, the North West High Court found Marikana housing and land rights activist, Napoleon Webster not guilty of murdering Petrus Sabata, who was killed at Marikana on 8 December 2016. Webster has always maintained that the charges against him were politically motivated and were not based on any reasonable suspicion that he had committed any offence. He was subsequently found not guilty by the Court after the prosecution failed to produce any credible evidence that linked Webster to the death of Sabata. Webster will brief the press on the charges against him, his trial and acquittal and concerns about the politicisation of the police and the criminal justice system. Joining the press conference will be, Lindokuhle Mdabe (attorney at SERI) and Nomzamo Zondo (SERI’s director of litigation).
WHEN: Thursday, 24 May at 10:00 to 11:30.
WHERE: SERI’s Conference Room, 6th floor Aspern House, 54 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
WHO: Napoleon Webster (Marikana housing and land rights activist), Lindokuhle Mdabe (SERI attorney) and Nomzamo Zondo (SERI Director of Litigation)
SERI is delighted to welcome Luckymore Matenga to our team as a research intern. Luckymore joined SERI as a research intern in May 2018. He holds a Masters degree in Urban Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2015, he graduated as a top student at Great Zimbabwe University where he received a Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in Social Anthropology. His Masters research focused on the survival strategies used by street vendors against the backdrop of harassments, repression and regulation from city officials. Prior to joining SERI, Luckymore worked for Masvingo Residents Trust as Assistant Coordinator from 2012 to 2016. Luckymore is sceptical to practices that discriminate and negatively affect marginalised and vulnerable groups. He is interested in understanding the struggles of street traders and social movements on issues of urban governance.
On 2 and 3 May 2018, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) hosted a Dialogue on Human Rights and Policing in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The two-day dialogue brought together approximately 45 policing experts, government officials, oversight bodies and civil society representative from accross the South Africa. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) was among the civil society organisations that participated in the dialogue.
The dialogue sought to create a space for constructive discussion between various stakeholders to engage on human rights-related policing; to support and encourage South African contributions and inputs into police policy developments; and to encourage stakeholders to share experiences and comparative analysis of human rights in the policing context.
SERI research associates Michael Clark and Mary Rayner participated in two panel discussions. Michael Clark contirbuted to a panel discussion on the decriminalisation of petty crimes. His presentation, which dealt with the legal challenge to the City of Johannesburg's Operation Clean Sweep, highlighted how the policing of informal trade impacted on the human rights of traders and their families. Mary Rayner contributed to a panel discussion on police oversight mechanisms. Her presentation was based on recent SERI research report, A Double Harm: Police Misuse of Force and Barrier to Necessary Health-Care Services during Student Protests (October 2017), which documents the injuries caused by the often 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.
On 4 May 2018, SERI launched a new resource guide for domestic workers, entitled Domestic Workers' Rights: A Legal and Practical Guide in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The launch was attended by approximately 35 people, including civil society representatives, members of domestic workers' unions and journalists.
Domestic work is one of the largest sources of employment for black women in South Africa, however domestic workers remain one of the most vulnerable occupational groups due to being positioned at the intersection of three lines along which inequality is generated: race, gender and class. Many domestic workers continue to be subjected to exploitative working conditions and disrespectful treatment. Despite the implementation of labour laws and the collective efforts of domestic workers to assert their rights, domestic workers’ employment rights are not always realised.
SERI developed this user-friendly resource guide to create awareness of the rights of domestic workers and the obligations of employers in terms of the domestic employment relationship. It explains what the law says about domestic workers and gives practical advice on how domestic workers can engage with their employers.
The guide is a resource for domestic workers; community-based paralegals and advice officers who work with doemestic workers. Employers of domestic workers will also find the information in the guide useful.
SERI also launched a series of short, mobile-friendly information sheets on the rights of domestic workers in English and Zulu. These information sheets cover topics like wages, leave, the Unempolyment Insurance Fund (UIF), employment contracts, the end of employment and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
On 28 February 2018, the City of Johannesburg (the City) published an invitation for interested parties to comment on its draft inclusionary housing policy, entitled Draft Inclusionary Housing: Incentives, Regulations and Mechanisms. The draft policy, which was published in terms of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA), makes provision for various incentives, mechanisms and regulations associated with inclusionary housing in the City. In particular, the policy makes it mandatory for any property development in the City that consists of ten or more dwelling units to include at least 20% inclusionary housing.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) has submitted written comments on the draft policy after reviewing it and attending a presentation and discussion workshop, hosted by the City of Johannesburg and the South African Research Chair on Spatial Analysis and City Planning (SA&CP), on the draft inclusionary housing policy at the University of the Witwatersrand on 20 April 2018.
SERI's submission welcomes the spirit of the draft policy, which clearly attempts to address the acute lack of rental housing that caters for poor and low-income households in the City in a manner that promotes spatial justice. However, the submission also raises a number of concerns with the policy. In particular, the policy fails to ensure that inclusionary housing units are made available to low-income households (households earning less than R3 200 a month); does not link the rental in inclusionary housing to household income; and lacks accountability or enforcement measures to ensure that property developers, social housing institutions and body corporates comply with the policy.