SERI is delighted to welcome two new interns, Nerishka Singh and Sekese Rasephei, to the team.
Nerishka Singh joins SERI as a research intern. She holds a BA (Political Studies) and LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is looking to pursue a Masters Degree which focuses on human rights litigation, with specific interest in the rights of women and children in South Africa. Nerishka’s interests include, politics, legal transformation and current affairs which touch on the socio-economic realities of different groups in South Africa.
Sekese Rasephei joins SERI as a research intern. He is currently a law student at the University of the Free State where he occupied various positions in a number of student bodies. Among these he has been; Chairperson of the Faculty of Law Student Council (The Juridical Society), the Academics Officer in the Student Representative Council as well as being the Chairperson of the Transitional Student Council. He has experience in tertiary debating and Model United Nations. His interests lie in helping and ensuring individuals achieve equality of opportunity and he has a keen interest in the improvement of personality and performance.
On 31 January 2019, the residents of the Winnie Mandela informal settlement filed a contempt application to hold the Ekhurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, the Mayor of Ekhurhuleni, the City Manager, and the Head of Municipal Department of Human Settlements to account for failing to abide by a December 2017 High Court order to provide them with housing.
SERI represents 133 residents of the Winnie Mandela informal settlement who have lived in shacks at the settlement without sufficient access to basic services since 1994. All the residents were approved and allocated a particular state-subsidised stand, only to find other people living there when they tried to move in. As a result, the residents cannot take possession of the stands allocated to them. By fraud or negligence, those stands have been given to other people, unknown to the residents.
In December 2017, the North Gauteng High Court ordered the municipality to provide each of the residents with a house at Tembisa Extension 25, or at another agreed location by 31 December 2018 and register the residents as the titleholders of their respective erven by 31 December 2019. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, the municipality was given until 30 June 2019 to provide the residents with a house and until 30 June 2020 to register them as titleholders.
As of 31 December 2018, the municipality had failed to abide by the High Court order by failing to take the intermediary steps required by the Court to ensure that the residents will receive the houses to which they are entitled. This includes the creation of a steering committee to oversee the construction process and quarterly reports on the progress of the construction of the residents’ houses. The residents contend that the municipality’s failure to comply with these aspects of the High Court order indicates that the municipality is not likely to comply with the ultimate object of the order, providing house, on time or at all.
On Monday, SERI researcher, Kelebogile Khunou, appeared on KykNETtv to discuss domestic worker rights and the imminent amendment to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 ("COIDA") which previously excluded domestic workers.
Khunou highlights the collective efforts of domestic workers to improve their working conditions over the years and discusses some of the challenges often cited in order to integrate them into labour legislation. One of the biggest remaining challenges facing domestic workers is negative public perception “many people don't feel that domestic work as work”, states Khunou.
On 24 January 2019, the Mail and Guardian published an article written by Musawenkosi Cabe, a reporter working with New Frame, on the current developments to amend section 1 (xix)(v) of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 ("COIDA") to provide domestic workers with protection against occupational injuries and disease.
SERI represents Sylvia Mahlangu, the daughter of Maria Mahlangu, a domestic worker who drowned in her employer’s pool. Maria’s family were, upon enquiry, informed by the Department of Labour that they could not be compensated for her death because domestic workers were excluded from the benefits COIDA.
In October 2018, the Minister of Labour published the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill, 2018 for public comment. The Amendment Bill seeks to amend COIDA so as “to provide coverage for domestic employees.”
The amendment comes in the wake of a court challenge, brought by SERI along with a number of domestic workers, unions and civil society organisations, to COIDA's exclusion of domestic workers.
This challenge was further reinforced by the United Nation’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommendation that South Africa amend COIDA to offer protection to domestic workers against occupational injuries and disease in it’s concluding observations on the initial report submitted by South Africa.
The purpose was to hold a space in which government and civil society could dialogue on the urban land question, given the significance of the land question in the current period, with a specific focus on land for human settlements. The idea was to inform the national Department of Human Settlements’ policy and legal review process.
Government officials from the HDA, Department of Land Reform and Rural Development and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) attended. A range of non government stakeholders participated as well including LandNNEs, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), the National Social Housing Organisation (Nasho), Ndifuna Ukwazi, the Development Action Group (DAG) and Slum Dwellers International (SDI).
The first half of the event was devoted to government inputs, and discussion, while the second half was an opportunity for NGOs to present their perspectives on the issue. The HDA, SALGA, COGTA and the South African Cities Network gave presentations in the morning session, while SERI, Nasho, DAG and Ndifuna Ukwazi presented in the afternoon session, with SDI wrapping up the civil society panel.
Royston presented for SERI focusing on a framework for urban land reform, motivating the need for a reform agenda using the three legs of land reform derived from Section 25 of the Constitution namely, restitution, redistribution and tenure reform.
SERI, together with other key stakeholders, has subsequently made presentations and participated in discussion with the Presidency’s Advisory Panel on Land Reform.