Resource Guides

Students Rights Guide imageDuring 2015 and 2016, students on university campuses across South Africa embarked on large-scale, disruptive protests calling for systemic changes to how universities operate and approach education, as well as how academic curricula are structured. Government, university administrators, police and private security often responded to these protests with force in an attempt to shut them down. Universities approached the courts to obtain interdicts preventing students from protesting on campuses. The police used tear gas, stun grenades, water cannons and rubber bullets against protesting students in often disproportionate and unlawful uses of force. This user-friendly resource guide explains students’ rights to protest, as well as students’ rights when they are arrested, detained or charged with a crime during a protest. It aims to create awareness of the rights and obligations of those involved in student protests to encourage university administrators, police and private security officials to respect human rights and mitigate the disproportionate and unlawful use of force. The guide was written by Michael Clark and Tim Fish Hodgson. 

Community OrganisersThis guide was developed to assist CBOs to organise effectively in order to facilitate social change in their communities. It draws on the experiences and practices of the South African shackdwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) and examines a number of topics: what is a community organisation, principles of community organisation, establishing a CBO, community meetings, protests and gatherings, education programmes, sustaining a CBO, managing and sharing information, and networking and partnerships. This guide is one of the resources in the Dear Mandela Toolkit, aimed at informing individuals, communities and CBOs of their rights.

 

Research Reports

  • Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa’s (SERI’s) Informal Settlement Research Series is called “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency”. It has produced three site-based research reports and a fourth synthesis report. The reports offer preliminary site-specific directions for future intervention and highlight implications for informal settlement upgrading in South Africa.  

Informal settlements have been part of the South African urban landscape for decades. The Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) provides a strong policy framework for improving the lives of informal settlement residents. There are however few if any examples where municipalities have upgraded informal settlements in keeping with the policy. SERI’s research provides qualitative, evidence-based insights to assist government officials, practitioners, planners and community members to strengthen the implementation of in-situ upgrading.

 

1. The Promised Land: Ratanang Informal Settlement (April 2019)

ISAR RatanangThis report, “The Promised Land: Ratanang Informal Settlement”, is the first of the three site-based reports in SERI’s informal settlement research series entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency.” The Ratanang informal settlement is situated west of the Klerksdorp Central Business District (CBD) in the City of Matlosana’s municipal jurisdiction. This report explores local realities and practices in land use management and tenure, access to basic services, the residents’ livelihoods and the nature of political space in the lives of Ratanang residents.

The report concludes that the Ratanang informal settlement was not an informal place to live. People organised themselves individually and collectively to secure their tenure, defend themselves against eviction, access land, water and energy and make a living. As such, external interventions which seek to impose an alternative order or regulate according to a different set of norms or rules – through processes of “formalisation”- should begin by recognising the local norms and regulations which already exist in Ratanang, and other informal settlements.

This report was a team effort. It was written by Lauren Royston (SERI senior associate) who also managed the project, Tiffany Ebrahim (SERI researcher) who also coordinated the field research and participated in the Ratanang steering committee, Edward Molopi (SERI researcher), Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy), and Dennis Webster (former SERI researcher). >>Read the report here

 

2. Our Place to Belong: Marikana Informal Settlement (April 2019)

ISAR MarikanaThis report, “Our Place to Belong: Marikana Informal Settlement”, is the second of the three site-based reports in SERI’s informal settlement research series entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency.” The Marikana informal settlement is located in Philippi East, Cape Town. This report explores local realities and practices in land use management and tenure, access to basic services, the residents’ livelihoods and the nature of political space in the lives Marikana residents.

The report concludes with provisional directions for upgrading. It indicates Marikana-specific implications and also provides more general indications for upgrading policy and implementation.

This report was a team effort. It was written by Lauren Royston (SERI senior associate) who also managed the project, Dennis Webster (former SERI researcher) who also coordinated the field work, Tiffany Ebrahim (SERI researcher), Edward Molopi (SERI researcher) and Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy). >>Read the report here.

 

3. Left Behind: Siyanda Informal Settlement (April 2019)

ISAR SiyandaThis report, “Left Behind: Siyanda Informal Settlement”, is the third of the three site-based reports in SERI’s informal settlement research series entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency.” Siyanda is located in KwaMashu, eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal. This report explores local realities and practices in land use management and tenure, access to basic services, the residents’ livelihoods and the nature of political space in the lives Marikana residents. 

The report concludes with preliminary directions for upgrading. It indicates Siyanda specific upgrading issues and provides more general indications for upgrading policy and implementation. 

This report was a team effort. It was written by Lauren Royston (SERI senior associate) who also managed the project, Edward Molopi (SERI researcher) who also coordinated the field work, Tiffany Ebrahim (SERI researcher), Kelebogile Khunou (SERI researcher) and Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy). Abahlali baseMjondolo were SERI’s partners in the Siyanda research. >>Read the report here.

 

4. Here to Stay: A Synthesis of Findings and Implications from Ratanang, Marikana and Siyanda (May 2019)

ISAR SythesisThis report, “Here to Stay: A Synthesis of Findings and Implications from Ratanang, Marikana and Siyanda” is the fourth and final report. It synthesises and compares findings across the three research sites and emanates from SERI’s informal settlement research series entitled “Informal Settlement: Norms, Practices and Agency.” It also considers the implications for upgrading in a comparative way across all three sites 

The report concludes by emphasising the agency that occupiers and their representatives used in the face of considerable contestation and also offers some concrete directions for upgrading, based on the synthesis of the site-specific findings.

This report was a team effort. It was written by Lauren Royston (SERI senior associate) who also managed the project, Kelebogile Khunou (SERI researcher), Alana Potter (SERI director of research and advocacy) and Tiffany Ebrahim (SERI researcher). Lauren Royston edited the report with assistance from Kelebogile Khunou. >>Read the report here.

 

 

Double Harm reportThis report 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. It also deals with attempts to provide crucial medical assistance to injured protestors, and documents cases in which these efforts were obstructed by, or as a result of, the police. The report further emphasises the traumatic and long-term health consequences of some of the injuries incurred as a result of the misuse of police force. The findings of the report raise serious questions about the appropriateness of the deployment of police to regulate campus-based protest and highlight the need to proactively plan for how to deal with casualties and ensure speedy access to independent and competent medical care once police have been called onto university campuses —otherwise, obstruction and delays would inevitably compound harm. The report was written by Dr Mary Rayner, Prof Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven and Dr Steve Naidoo. >>Read the full report (including an executive summary) here.

Anatomy of Dissent

This research report examines the week-long protest in Thembelihle, near Lenasia, Johannesburg which took place in September 2011. Frustrated by an unaccountable and unresponsive local government that frequently disregarded the community’s on-going demands for access to adequate basic services, Thembelihle residents took to the streets. Their demands, however, were dismissed by local and provincial government and met with a forceful police clamp-down. In the aftermath of the protest, arrest and criminal prosecution (often on frivolous charges) was used to harass and intimidate community members and to target community leaders, marking an alarming trend in which the criminal justice system is used by the government to suppress popular dissent. This highlights the growing trend of state repression of popular protests in poor urban areas and details how the state employs the criminal justice system to vilify, criminalise and suppress local communities advocating  for socio-economic development. This report was written by Michael Clark. >>Read the full report (including an executive summary) here.

 

Working Papers

 

ParalegalThis paper was prepared for The Justice and Development Working Paper Series. It examines the role of paralegals in providing a crucial link to justice services and legal redress in South Africa, particularly for the rural poor. The paper begins with a historical overview of paralegal services in South Africa from the apartheid period to the present. The study then maps the current state of the paralegal sector, and provides detailed information on the structure and function of key organizations that provide paralegal services. Through an analysis of twelve case studies of paralegal-assisted cases, the report identifies facilitating and hindering determinants of community advice office (CAO) functions at both the institutional and organization level. This working paper was written by Jackie Dugard and Kay Drage.

 

Other Publications