SERI represents a Soweto family in a rescission application challenging a default judgment against them and the sale-in-execution of their home by a bank. In 2002, the Thwala's bond account went into arrears after both the husband and wife lost their jobs. Thereafter, First National Bank (FNB) obtained default judgment against them in August 2003, and then entered into payment arrangements with them in terms of which the bank undertook to stop the sale in execution subject to the Thwalas making further payments towards the bond. On receiving these further payments, FNB stopped the sale-in-execution and continued to run the bond account as if it had never obtained a default judgment. Seven years later, the bank reneged on its agreement and proceeded to sell the property in execution without first approaching a court for leave to do so. In February 2012, the new owner launched an eviction application against the family.
SERI has filed its heads of argument and FNB now has 10 days to file its heads, and then the matter will be allocated for hearing - possibly in May or June 2013.
On 10 April 2013 SERI will be in court for two important cases: Hlophe (Chung Hua) and Dladla (Ekuthuleni shelter). In the Hlophe enforcement application, SERI seeks an order declaring that the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, the City Manager and the Director of Housing are responsible for taking all the necessary steps to see to it that the City complies with an order to provide alternative accommodation to the occupiers of Chung Hua Mansions facing eviction and homelessness, failing which SERI will be able apply to have the three office-bearers committed for contempt.
In the Dladla case, SERI represents the former residents of Saratoga Avenue, who were moved to the Ekuthuleni shelter in May 2012 by the City of Johannesburg as part of the Blue Moonlight Constitutional Court judgment. The conditions at the Ekuthuleni shelter are extremely draconian: people are locked out of the shelter during the day in order to stop them "avoiding work"; spouses and life-partners have been separated from each other and placed in gender-differentiated dormitories; and a child who moved to the shelter has been separated from her grandmother - her only guardian - and placed in a children's home. In this application, SERI seek an interim interdict to suspend the daytime lock-out rule, and compel the shelter to allow spouses and life-partners to live together.
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) has appointed SERI's executive director Stuart Wilson to observe the criminal proceedings brought against Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa. On 3 April 2013, Stuart attended her appearance in the Harare Magistrates’ Court and he will be providing a full report to the CLA.
SERI (in collaboration with the Good Governance Learning Network) hosted a roundtable discussion on 3 April 2013 in Johannesburg. The roundtable discussion provided an opportunity for SERI to present the findings of a research report entitled "'Jumping the Queue', Waiting Lists and other Myths: Perceptions and Practice around Housing Demand and Allocation in South Africa". This report was written together with the Community Law Centre (CLC), based at the University of the Western Cape, and will be published in April 2013.
The SERI Law Clinic has been instructed to release a statement on behalf of the families of the striking miners killed by the police on 16 August 2012. The families do not accept National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s “condolences”, offered before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry on 14 March 2013. They demand a full-throated apology from Commissioner Phiyega and an acknowledgement of responsibility for having killed their family members.