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.
On Tuesday, 9 April 2019, SERI litigation fellow Khululiwe Bhengu and researcher Kelebogile Khunou attended the Department of Environmental Affairs’ National Waste Picker Integration Workshop in Pretoria. The workshop was attended by approximately 100 municipal officials, waste pickers, private sector stakeholders and members of civil society. The purpose of the workshop was to increase knowledge about waste pickers and waste picker integration and share the draft National Guidelines on Waste Picker Integration.
The workshop began with speakers from the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA) and the African Reclaimers’ Organisation (ARO), who provided insight into the contribution of waste pickers to South Africa’s waste management and recycling system and highlighted the importance of continued engagement between all stakeholders in the implementation of waste picker integration.
The workshop participants then broke up into groups and discussed specific actions related to implementing waste picker integration like registration of waste pickers in the City of Johannesburg, the process of integration at landfill sites and transformation of the waste management system.
On 4 April 2019, SERI researchers delivered a guest lecture to New Urban Management Masters students studying through the Wits-TUB Urban Lab postgraduate programme for Sub-Saharan Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Architecture and Planning.
SERI’s Maanda Makwarela and Tiffany Ebrahim presented SERI’s litigation, research and advocacy influence on urban management in Johannesburg. They discussed the legacy of apartheid spatial planning in South Africa’s cities and shared policy lessons and implications from informal settlements and Johannesburg’s inner city.
Read more about SERI’s work in spatial inequality here.
SERI represents a community of approximately 60,000 people living in Marikana informal settlement in opposition of an application for eviction.
On 30 August 2017, the Western Cape High Court dismissed an application to evict the community. The Court found that the City had infringed the constitutional property rights of the owners of the Marikana land, and had also breached the housing rights of the Marikana residents by its unreasonable failure to do anything to secure the tenure of the Marikana residents. In its judgment, the Court directed the City to initiate the process provided for in terms of section 9(3) of the Housing Act, by entering into good faith negotiations to purchase the Marikana land, and expropriating the land in the event that purchase negotiations failed. The property owners, the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Minister launched a consolidated appeal against the High Court judgment.
On 8 April 2019, SERI, on behalf of the occupiers, filed heads of argument in the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA), arguing that the High Court correctly identified the standard expected of the state in responding to land occupations of this nature which require the state to respond reasonably to an occupation and that the only legal basis on which the state parties to this case can take steps to acquire the properties on which the occupiers reside is to exercise the City’s powers under section 9(3) of the Housing Act. SERI further argued that the appeals brought by the City, the Provincial Minister for Human Settlements, and the property owners should be dismissed.
SERI is opposing the appeal to protect the community from a potential eviction, secure tenure and enable eventual upgrading.
SERI represents 29 market traders trading near the Mogwase Shopping Complex in Mogwase in the North West threatened with eviction from the space in which they conduct their business and use to earn a living.
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 to Transnet. Transnet alleges that the traders are trading on their property, close to a railway line, which poses a safety risk for the traders. Transnet further states that they have engaged with the municipality in order to resolve the situation but the municipality has not been responsive.
On 4 April 2019, SERI, on behalf of the market traders, filed heads of arguments with the Mahikeng High Court arguing that:
1) Transnet does not own the land on which the market traders are operating;
2) The traders’ activities are not illegal and are recognised and protected in terms of the Businesses Act 71 of 1991;
3) The traders do not operate on or near a railway line but between the shopping complex and housing estate and are not enticing people to cross railway lines to access their stalls; and,
4) The traders have been trading on the land for almost 20 years, not four.
The case will be heard in 2019.
Read more about the case here.