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[PRESS STATEMENT] Abahlali baseMjondolo amicus intervention: Bromwell Street matter (26 February 2024).

SERI Bromwell statementOn Tuesday, 27 February 2024, the Constitutional Court will hear the matter of Commando & Others v The City of Cape Town & Another. The matter has been brought by the residents of Bromwell Street who are represented by Ndifuna Ukwazi. Abahlali baseMjondolo (Abahlali) have been admitted as amicus curiae (friend of the court) and are represented by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI). The applicants in the matter are long-standing residents of Bromwell Street in Cape Town’s city centre and they have approached the Constitutional Court to appeal a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) delivered on 6 February 2023. This decision permits the City of Cape Town to evict the Bromwell Street families and relocate them to informal settlements, such as Wolwerivier, which are far away from the city centre. The SCA decision overturned the Western Cape High Court decision of 6 September 2021 which found that the City of Cape Town’s Housing Programme was arbitrary and unlawful, and ordered the City to provide the applicants with temporary emergency accommodation in Woodstock, Salt River or in the inner city precinct.

The key issue before the Constitutional Court is the constitutionality of the City’s housing policy not to provide temporary emergency accommodation in the inner city of Cape Town. Abahlali intends to make submissions that will specifically draw on international law to inform the interpretation of section 26 of the Constitution and the right to adequate housing. In particular, Abahlali relies on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which South Africa has ratified.  The central issue is the location of alternative accommodation provided by municipalities to people facing homelessness upon eviction.

This is a matter of great importance in circumstances where large metropolitan municipalities seem to be implementing policies that resemble apartheid spatial planning in a democratic South Africa. Municipalities cannot replicate apartheid era displacement of poor residents to the outskirts of city centres. The matter therefore holds significance not only for the Bromwell Street residents but for South Africa as a whole and the protection and advancement of our Constitutional ethos.

Contact Details:

  • Amanda Duma, SERI attorney: Amanda[at]seri-sa.org, 082 590 9507.
  • Zanele Kanya, SERI candidate attorney: Zanele[at]seri-sa.org, 082 590 8799.


  • Download the press statement here.

[NEWSLETTER] SERI's latest newsletter is out (31 October 2023).

SERI newsletter


This is SERI’s second newsletter for 2023. In it we present a few highlights from our work in the five-month period (May to September) since our last newsletter in May 2023.  

Over this period, we published a new publication reflecting on protest in South Africa and a new Community Practice Note on the African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO) that examines their contribution to the recycling economy in Johannesburg. SERI also released new translations of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) guide and factsheets to further our distribution and reach in the winelands.

During this period, we initiated legal action against Operation Dudula and relevant government departments for xenophobic conduct. In a case on behalf of Abahlali baseMjondolo, we secured a settlement between KwaDukuza Municipality and the Sheffield Beach/Salt Rock community that will include them in an informal settlement upgrading project. We also filed a case that challenges exclusions from the SRD grant on behalf of the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) and #PayTheGrants. Finally, we welcomed an order from the High Court finding the City of Ekurhuleni in contempt of court for failure to provide housing to residents of Winnie Mandela Informal Settlement.

Access the full newsletter here



[ADVOCACY] SERI hosts a two-day local governance convening (12 April 2023).

On the 15th and 16th March 2023, SERI hosted a two-day Local Governance Convening entitled "A Civil Society Agenda for Change Dialogue". The event was organised by four organisations: Afesis-Corplan, Planact, Isandla Institute, and SERI, who joined forces to explore engagements that could lead to a realistic agenda for change in the local governance sphere.Local Government convening

The convening was attended by 25 individuals selected from community-based and civil society organisations. Dr. Jessie Turton facilitated the event. The objectives of the convening were to create a meaningful space for reflection and dialogue on the state of local governance in South Africa, develop a joint diagnosis of the systemic drivers of the crisis in local government, develop a civil society agenda for change in local government, and discuss possible modalities for collective action, including resourcing.

On the first day, participants deliberated and grappled with the definition of "system change," identified the root causes of the local government crisis, and areas of intervention. Dr. David Sutcliffe and Sue Bannister presented on the state of local government municipalities over the past decades. On the second day, participants identified three key areas of intervention. Finally, the convening concluded with interim structures that will lead the initiative and collective broad-stroke action plans. The action plans aim to ensure that this convening goes beyond dialogue but systematically transforms the local governance sphere. The convening envisions further networking and collaboration with other individuals, community-based organisations, and civil society organisations to form part of this agenda for change.

[LITIGATION UPDATE] High Court declares Mashaba’s inner city Police Raids Irrational and Unconstitutional (1 July 2020).

On Monday, 29 June 2020, the full bench of the High Court in Johannesburg delivered a judgment declaring section 13 (7) (c) of the South African Police Services Act 68 of 1995 (the SAPS Act) constitutionally invalid.  

Between June 30 2017 and May 3 2018, 11 inner-city buildings in Johannesburg’s central business district were raided at the behest of the then-minister of police, Fikile Mbalula, and the then-mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba. Collectively, the buildings were raided more than 20 times, with some being raided as many as five times in 10 months. For all but two of the 20 raids, the police obtained written authorisation to conduct raids in terms of section 13(7) of the SAPS Act.

During the raids, which were jointly conducted by the SAPS,  the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), the Department of Home Affairs and the City of Johannesburg, officials forced the residents out of the buildings and onto the streets. The officials demanded that the residents produce identification documentation and, while outside their homes, they were fingerprinted and body-searched. If residents failed to produce documentation, they were arrested. Inside the buildings, the police left the residents’ homes in disarray. They broke down doors and partitions, damaged furniture and even stole valuable items and small amounts of cash.

The full bench held that the decisions to issue the authorisations fall to be set aside, in terms of sections 6(2)(e)(i) and (ii) of PAJA respectively, as they were issued for a reason not authorised by section 13(7) of the SAPS Act and for an ulterior purpose or motive which is to intimidate the applicants into vacating the so-called ‘hijacked buildings’.

In its judgment, the court ordered the legislature to cure the constitutional defect within 24 months and pending the correction the section is to be read as excluding any private home and/or any person inside such private home.

  • Read more about the case and find all the papers here.

[WEBSITE] The Public Interest Legal Services (PILS) website has been updated (4 April 2019).

The Public Interest Legal Services (PILS) website has been updated and is available to the public at www.pils.org.za.

The PILS website is a user-friendly resource for all members of the public interested in learning more about the issues, methods, and types of organisations that contribute to expanding access to justice in South Africa.

Originally built in 2015 to house the results of a study on public interest legal services in South Africa, the site includes an interactive map on which identifies and locates the full range of PILS organisations in South Africa. The map provides information about social justice organisations and community advice offices around the country. The website also features: a calendar on which PILS organisations can share information about upcoming events relevant to the sector and news.

Access the website here.



Interactive mapPilsareas of intervention