On Monday 15 May, SERI researcher Kelebogile Khunou attended the South African Cities Network’s workshop entitled, 'Developing a Policy and Regulatory Framework for Township Development'. The workshop was hosted in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government and North West University’s Chair for Cities, Law and Environmental Sustainability (CLES). The venue for the workshop was held at a successful “shisanyama”, Busy Corner Imbizo African Restaurant in Tembisa. The workshop was attended by over 50 participants with government officials from the Gauteng Office of the Premier, the Gauteng Department of Economic Development and officials from Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni local government departments such as Economic Development, Spatial Planning and Human Settlements. They were joined by academics and students from CLES.
The workshop consisted of a context and objective setting session by Jak Koseff from the Gauteng Office of the Premier and an interactive ideation session where all workshop participants were asked to share their understanding of township economic development, to identify key issues and challenges as well as propose solutions for these issues. The main event consisted of a panel discussion which included Professor Anel Du Plessis, Chair for CLES, Ms. Rita Zwane, founder and owner of Busy Corner, Mr. Thulani Guliwe from the Gauteng Department of Economic Development and Mr. Makgafela Thaba from the City of Johannesburg’s Public Safety Department. A highlight from the panel discussion was Ms. Zwane’s impactful story of her journey as a township entrepreneur, her challenges with respect to rezoning applications, accessing financial assistance and other barriers to running a successful business in the township.
In June 2018, SERI developed a discussion document entitled Towards Recommendations on the Regulation of Informal Trade at Local Government Level, which has a particular focus on a segment of the informal economy in townships, informal trading. The discussion document aims to provide assistance to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and municipalities throughout the country to encourage a better understanding of the legal and constitutional obligations of local government in formulating and implementing municipal by-laws governing informal trade. It also builds on the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s Recommendation 204 on formalizing informal work, by aiming to improve the legal and policy framework governing informal trade.
The document also sets out a number of recommendations or proposals to assist municipalities to formulate or update their by-laws, adopt policies and oversee the actions of their officials who are responsible for enforcing the by-laws or policies governing informal trade. The majority of the proposals made have been developed from the rights contained in the Constitution, other national laws and policies, and the decisions of South African courts.
Slovo Park community and SERI mourn the passing of Frank Mapara. Mr Mapara was a founding member of the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF). He dedicated three decades of his life to the betterment of the lives of the Slovo Park residents. It was his wisdom and persistent leadership which trained and groomed the young leaders of the SPCDF who have dutifully fought to ensure that Slovo Park is developed.
His passing is a great loss to his family, friends and the informal settlement as a whole. The SPCDF will celebrate his contribution in a memorial service that will be held at the Slovo Park Informal Settlement. Please see the memorial service details below:
On Friday, 3 May 2019, SERI participated in a workshop hosted by the Inner City Federation at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The workshop was attended by approximately 30 inner-city residents.
The one day workshop consisted of three sessions facilitated by SERI’s Edward Molopi, who elaborated on housing rights and resisting evictions in South Africa, CALS’ Vuyo Mntonintshi who spoke on securing access to basic services in the inner-city, and SERI’s Kelebogile Khunou who gave a presentation on domestic workers’ rights. The workshop participants were provided with copies of SERI’s domestic workers' rights guide and resisting evictions in South Africa guide.
Molopi presentation explained the various protections offered to occupiers by the Constitution and different pieces of legislation. Molopi’s presentation further highlighted the importance of meaningful engagement in the eviction process in order to find a just and equitable solution without resorting to a forced eviction.
Vuyo Mntonintshi’s presentation explored the provision of basic services to occupied buildings and how buildings that have been previously disconnected can gain access to basic services. Mntonintshi further emphasised the benefits to making use of the Rental Housing Tribunal for dispute resolution on matters related to water and electricity charges.
The presentation on the rights of domestic workers by Kelebogile Khunou, highlighted the importance of viewing domestic work as “real” work with real labour rights and considered how exploitative labour practices have remained largely unchanged for domestic workers with the advent of democracy. Khunou highlighted the importance of knowing the difference between an employer’s unlawful and lawful actions, and taking matters to the CCMA when employers are not in compliance with the law.
The workshop highlighted the shared experience of many of the participants both through their forms of employment and through their status as occupants.
The right to protest is a critical form of public participation and political expression and a crucial mechanism through which dissatisfied groups can voice their grievances. Section 17 of the Constitution grants legal protection to a wide range of different protest actions in stating that “everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions”.
SERI’s work in “expanding political space” seeks to promote and expand the spaces within which communities can peacefully assemble, demonstrate, articulate and campaign for the advancement of their socio-economic rights. In the last two months, SERI has been engaged in a number of workshops and media engagements that aim to raise the public’s awareness of the right to protest and the role that it plays in a democratic South Africa.
On 18 and 19 March 2019, SERI, together with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF), the Omega Research Foundation (UK) and the Right2Protest hosted a workshop for civil society and community-based organisations from around the country on the role of civil society in holding the police accountable for human rights violations. The workshop was attended by approximately 50 participants including researchers, activists and individuals working in the contexts of policing, law, human rights, forensic medicine, social research and policy, weapons control and accountability systems. A workshop report detailing the outcomes of the workshop is available here.
On 22 March 2019, SERI’s Mary Rayner and Thato Masiangoako represented SERI at a workshop hosted by the Security at the Margins (SeaM) project at the University of the Witwatersrand. The workshop explored how organisations use data in their pursuit of police accountability with a focus on groups typically marginalised, discriminated against and/or criminalised, including sex and other informal sector workers, drug users, LBGTQ+ people, and protestors.
On 16 April 2019, SERI’s Edward Molopi and Mary Rayner gave a lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Governance which shared perspectives on police oversight from civil society organisations and focused particularly on the role of civil society in holding the police accountable for policing of protests. The lecture was part of a course entitled “Actors in External Oversight” convened by Sean Tait and Chumile Sali from the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF).
In March 2019, SERI in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation Centre of Memory launched a protest exhibition entitled “Insurgent Citizens: Reflections on Protest in Democratic South Africa.”
The exhibition creates a visual narrative which offers the public an opportunity to reflect on protests and the state’s response to protests. It further challenges and dispels some often deeply-held assumptions and longstanding myths about protests in South Africa and offers the public an opportunity to reflect on protests and the state response to protests through the law and practice.
On Sunday, 31 March, the City Press published an op-ed by SERI researcher, Thato Masiangoako, which challenged some of the common misconceptions around protest activity in South Africa and unpacked some of the reasons behind skewed public perceptions of protest. The op-ed also considers the important role that protest has played in our 25-year democracy and draws attention to the disproportionate amount of force that protests are usually met with.
In March, SERI’s Alana Potter and Edward Molopi were featured as guests on the Azania Mosaka show Talk Radio 702and Iman Rappetti show on Power FMrespectively. Potter and Molopi reflected on the recent protest exhibition at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. On 8 April 2019, SERI researcher, Thato Masiangoako, discussed the question of violent protests on the Talking Point show with Bongani Gwala on SAFM.
Other relevant media
On Thursday, 2 May 2019, SERI and the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF) participated in an international conference about land tenure, displacement and recovery, hosted by Caño Martín Peña in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Lerato Marole presented on a community leaders panel about the SPCDF’s history, challenges and their successful use of the courts and existing housing policy to engage the South African government and ensure the upgrade of Slovo Park informal settlement. On a different panel, Tiffany Ebrahim presented on the importance of civil society organisations aligning their missions to support the strategic agendas of community based organisations and social movements that advocate for the implementation of pro-poor policy and community participation in government decision-making processes.
Marole and Ebrahim were joined on their panels by a wide range of activists and community leaders from Brazil, Mexico, Barbuda, Argentina and Puerto Rico. Organiser and host, Caño Martín Peña is the winner of the World Habitat Award in 2015 for developing a community land trust in an informal settlement that secures tenure and ensures the provision of services for more than 5000 homes previously neglected by the Puerto Rican and United States government. The community land trust has been lauded as the first of its kind in an informal settlement context, and has played a central role in ensuring resident access to government support services post-Hurricane Maria in 2017.