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Expanding Political Space

Press Statements

  • Constitutional Court confirms Mashaba’s inner city raids unconstitutional (25 October 2021). On Friday 22 October 2021, the Constitutional Court confirmed an earlier judgment by the Johannesburg High Court declaring section 13(7)(c) of the South African Police Services Act 68 of 1995 (the SAPS Act) constitutionally invalid insofar as it allows for warrantless searches. >> Read the full statement here.
  • SERI stands by claims for damages made by the deceased miners' families against the state (19 August 2021). On 17 August 2021, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Solicitor General Fhedzisani Pandelani provided an update on the reparations paid to the victims of the Marikana Massacre in a media briefing. However, some statements made by the Solicitor General are inaccurate. These statements pertain to three issues: the state’s approach to reparations relating to the Marikana Massacre; details of the claims paid out to the families for loss of support; and the families’ claims for general and constitutional damages. The families have lived with loss and trauma since 2012. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) stands by their claims for damages. >> Read the full statement here.
  • Marikana Massacre 9th Commemoration (10 August 2021). This year marks the 9th year since the Marikana massacre. On 9 August 2012, the mineworkers embarked on a strike over their working conditions and to demand a living wage. On 16 August 2012, the South African Police Service (SAPS) attempted to end the strike by responding with lethal force. Over the course of a few days, the cumulative death toll reached 44 people including mineworkers, Lonmin security personnel and two SAPS officers. >> Read the full statement here.
  • SERI condemns the use of lethal force against peaceful protestors in eSwatini (2 July 2021). Over the past month, the people of eSwatini have intensified pro-democracy protests demanding systemic political reforms. The protests call for reform following years of widespread suppression of political actors, human rights defenders and journalists through the misuse of the law, arbitrary detention, torture and death. The protests also take place against a backdrop of persistent economic hardship and increasing unemployment. >> Read the full statement here.
  • SERI stands in solidarity with Abahlali baseMjondolo and condemns the abuse of the criminal justice system (17 May 2021). On Tuesday, 4 May 2021, Abahlali baseMjondolo deputy president Mqapheli Bonono and Abahlali member and eKhenana resident Siniko Miya were arrested and charged with ‘conspiracy to commit murder’. These charges stem from witness statements made in relation to a recent meeting with the residents of eKhenana about a murder that took place in Cato Manor in March. We condemn these efforts to stifle movements of dissent by the harassment and criminalisation of targeted figures. We reject this abuse of the criminal justice system and call for the urgent release of Mqapheli Bonono, Siniko Miya and Maphiwe Gasa. >> Read the full statement here.
  • SERI welcomes the release of the Marikana Panel of Experts Report on Policing and Crowd Management (31 March 2021). On 29 March 2021, the Minister of Police Bheki Cele released the Panel of Experts Report on Policing and Crowd Management. The Panel of Experts was established in 2016 by then Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko in terms of the recommendations of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry. The panel was chaired by the late judge David Sakelene Vusimuzi Ntshangase and comprised of national and international experts in policing and members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Civilian Secretariat for Police. The panel submitted the report to the Minister of Police in July 2018. >> Read the full statement here.
  • SERI condemns SAPS use of force against peaceful student protestors (10 March 2021). For the past five days, students at the University of the Witwatersrand have embarked on protests over their grievances about the financial exclusion of students at the University. On Wednesday, 10 March, students staged a protest in Braamfontein, on Jorissen, De Korte and De Beer streets. Members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) responded violently to the protests, resorting to firing rubber bullets, using water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesting students. We have learned that numerous people have been gravely injured and that a number of students have been arrested. We have also recently learned that one person has been killed and for this we extend our deepest condolences to their family and loved ones. >> Read the full statement here.
  • For a full archive of all SERI press statements from 2010 to 2021 see here.



For a full list of op-eds written by SERI staff, see here.


Local Government Action (LGA)

lgguide smallIn 2011 SERI, SECTION27, and Read Hope Philips Attorneys developed a comprehensive guide on local government entitled Making Local Government Work: An Activist's Guide, for use by activists in South Africa. This helpful guide sets out the legal responsibilities of local government in South Africa and rights under the Constitution and in law. It shows how to engage government from inside, by participating in formal processes, and from outside by going public through complaints, petitions, protest action, the media and the courts.

A website for the guide - Local Government Action (LGA) - has been set up, which has all the information from the guide, as well as other useful links to organisations, resources, cases etc. Visit www.localgovernmentaction.org. LGA aims to help people:

  • understand local government and what it should be doing for every community
  • monitor (or keep track of) what local government is doing
  • find out what to do when local government ignores the community or breaks the rules
  • take action to enforce the rights to water, sanitation, electricity, housing, and health
  • find organisations that can help.

For information and queries email Koketso Moeti: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



  • Submission on the draft Geneva Guidelines on Less-Lethal Weapons, September 2018. SERI made written comments on the draft Geneva Guidelines on Less-Lethal Weapons and related Equipment in Law Enforcement to the Geneva Academy and the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (University of Pretoria). These draft set of Guidelines relate to the lawful and responsible design, production, procurement, testing, training, transfer, and use of less-lethal weapons and related equipment. The purpose of these Guidelines is to provide guidance to states, law enforcement agencies, human rights bodies and mechanisms, private security companies, manufacturers, and individuals or agents of any bodies using force for law enforcement purposes, human rights defenders, and individuals seeking to assert their rights on the lawful and responsible design, production, procurement, testing, training, transfer, and use of less-lethal weapons and related equipment. This draft document aims to build upon, the United Nations (UN) Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. >>  Read the draft set of guidline here and read SERI's submission here
  • SERI involved in SAHRC hate speech complaint hearing (28 November 2011). SERI's Director of Litigation, Stuart Wilson has been appointed as an advisor to the South African Human Rights Commission's panel currently considering a range of complaints of hate speech against Julius Malema made by the Afrikanerbond. His submissions emphasise the need to consider harmful or offensive political speech in context, and to construe hate speech law narrowly in a manner which impinges as little as possible on freedom of expression. Read more here.
  • SERI endorses civil society request for extension to Zimbabwe Documentation Project (9 December 2010). Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) together with a number of civil society organisations, including SERI, have endorsed a letter of complaint to the Office of the Public Protector, requesting that the deadline for Zimbabwe Documentation Project be extended. The Department of Home Affairs has refused to extend the deadline for new applications to the Zimbabwe Documentation Project, despite a number of problems with the process. Read the LHR press release here and the letter to the Public Protector here.
  • SERI endorses Submission on the Social Assistance Amendment Bill, 2010. SERI has endorsed the Aids Law Project (ALP) Submission on the Social Assistance Amendment Bill, which raises some serious concerns around access to justice and the rule of law. The submission focuses on two of the proposed amendments, namely the insertion of the definition of 'disability' and the change in the appeal procedure following an adverse decision in respect of an application for a disability grant.  ALP and SERI are of the view that the definition, although intended to clarify who is eligible for a grant and who is not, is actually vague and will not assist decision-makers or applicants for grants and will compound confusion in the system.  The amendment to the appeal process essentially introduces a double appeal, which will likely lead to even greater delays in the finalisation of the disability grant application process and to an infringement of rights. Read the Submission and Annexure (16 April 2010), as well as a Supplementary Submission (28 April 2010).