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[ADVOCACY] SERI hosts Global Affairs Canada representative (11 March 2024).

KerryGAC InnerCityFed visitOn 26 February 2024, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) hosted Global Affairs Canada (GAC) representative, Kerry Max, for a half-day visit to SERI.

The purpose of the visit was for Kerry to obtain an introduction to SERI and learn more about the organisation. GAC funds the Women’s Spaces Project and works with Rooftops Canada to implement it. Rooftops has partnered with SERI to implement the South African portion of the project. The goal is to increase women’s equal access to land and housing rights.

Upon arrival, Kerry was introduced to the Women’s Spaces team, SERI's Executive Director Nomzamo Zondo, SERI the organization, and the Inner City Federation (ICF). Kerry received an overview of the Women’s Spaces project, its current activities, and a few planned activities.

The group visited four inner city buildings, led by the ICF. This included three occupied buildings, namely Jeanlaw Court, Manhattan Court, and 58 Auret, as well as one site of Temporary Emergency Accommodation, 133 Albert.

This visit forms part of the Women’s Spaces project at SERI which focuses on women’s rights to land and housing in sub-Saharan Africa.

[MAHLANGU] This International Women's Day, SERI spotlights domestic work (8 March 2024).

Mahlangu Event Nov2023 panelToday, 8 March, is globally celebrated as the International Women’s Day. On this day, SERI is raising awareness on the rights of domestic workers. Domestic work is the largest source of employment for black women in South Africa. Their care work and household work enables others to carry out their own jobs, is essential to the functioning of families all over the country, and is a significant contribution to the national economy.

SERI, in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, hosted an annual commemorative dialogue to mark the anniversary of the landmark Constitutional Court judgment in Mahlangu v Minister of Labour since the judgment. The landmark judgment saw the inclusion of domestic workers in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA) and allowed for the findings to apply retrospectively.

The judgment has significant implications for the domestic workers of South Africa: not only can domestic workers and dependants who experience work-related injuries, diseases, and death claim from the Compensation Fund, but those domestic workers and dependants who have experienced work-related injuries, diseases or death as far back as 27 April 1994 are also able to submit claims.

On 22 November 2023, the dialogue entitled, "Three Years after Mahlangu: Taking Stock of Domestic Work in South Africa" brought together government, civil society organisations representing domestic workers and employers, and members of the public to discuss key issues in the sector and collectively explore solutions. The central concern voiced by the keynote speaker and the panellists was the low number of domestic worker COIDA claims being processed, which was approximately 14 according to the latest information SERI obtained from the Compensation Fund, and the low number of registrations by employers of domestic workers.

Domestic WorkerSERI is calling for domestic workers who have experienced a workplace injury or contracted a disease, and dependents of domestic workers who died due to a workplace injury/disease to:

  • WhatsApp 082 590 9492 and follow the prompts.
  • Call 011 356 5860.

We will then provide you with advice and assist you with the submission process for your claim.

  • Read more about the Mahlangu case here.
  • Watch a recording of the event here.
  • Download the employers guide here.

[ADVOCACY] SERI hosts the Shelter & Settlements Alternative Uganda for an exchange visit (28 February 2024).

SSA Uganda visitFrom 19 to 21 February 2024, SERI hosted the Shelter & Settlements Alternative: Uganda Human Settlements Network (SSA) for an exchange visit on gender equality in land and housing.  

The exchange visit allowed SERI and SSA to share insights and experiences regarding their efforts in advancing access to land and housing, with a specific focus on gender equality. The exchange facilitated networking opportunities and cultural exchanges between the two organizations and included learning from SERI's operation strategies.

On the first day of the exchange program, SSA was introduced to SERI’s research and advocacy and engaged with SERI’s senior leadership. On the second day, SSA observed litigation consultations and gained firsthand experience in SERI's client engagement processes, further enhancing their understanding of operational strategies. The day concluded with SSA's exploration of spatial inequality through a guided tour of Johannesburg. On the last day of the exchange, SSA joined ICF’s inner-city residents for a consultation on women’s challenges in Johannesburg's inner-city buildings.

This exchange formed part of the Women’s Spaces project at SERI which focuses on women’s rights to land and housing in sub-Saharan Africa. The project is supported by Rooftops Canada.

[TRIBUTE] SERI mourns the death of the Unemployed People's Movement's Ayanda Kota (23 February 2024).

5Dec drought EC JP 4 1920x1280 AyandaKota NewFrameSERI is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ayanda Kota and we wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. SERI represented Ayanda Kota in a civil damages case for his unlawful arrest and detention in 2012. While wrongfully arresting Kota, the police assaulted him in front of his son and was detained for approximately 17 hours.

In 2020, SERI was fortunate to have interviewed Ayanda Kota for a water rights case study, entitled Makana Local Municipality: provincial intervention in municipal crisis. Kota was generous with his time and knowledge, and most importantly was very passionate about addressing the myriad of challenges that plagued the Makana’s local governance.

He and the Unemployed People’s Movement played an important role in advocating for the interests of the poor and holding the Makana Local Municipality accountable over the years. Because of his work, he was forced to go into hiding in 2020 due to threats against him and his family.  Despite this, his commitment to justice led him to contest the 2021 local government elections, under the coalition Makana Citizen’s Front in which they won five proportional representation seats.

In 2022, Kota co-hosted a workshop with the Marikana families at the Grahamstown Arts Festival which helped host the 10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre. Again, Kota was gracious and expressed his solidarity with the families’ quest for justice.

Comrade Ayanda Kota’s contribution to the struggle for the poor is invaluable and he will be sorely missed.

[JOINT STATEMENT] SERI and Lawtons Africa welcome the response to the amendment to the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act,1991 (Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment, 2021) (22 February 2024).

SERI Lawtons ULTRA statement 1On 25 July 2023, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) in collaboration with Lawtons Africa made a written request to the Office of the President for the urgent proclamation of section 14A of the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Act 6 of 2021 (ULTRA Amendment).

The Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act (ULTRA) was enacted to automatically upgrade the rights of permit holders to free-hold by providing them with title deeds. While the intention of this legislation is progressive and important, ULTRA as an Act has not fully engaged with many complexities that exist for the people residing under those different permit tenancy systems.

One of the more prominent complexities relates to the concept of the family home, a traditional way of life in which families live together in one residence under the leadership of the family’s patriarch. The patriarch ensured unity amongst the family and acted as custodian of the family home property. During the apartheid regime, African males over the age of 21 were eligible to obtain a permit to the family home property. All other family members were listed on the permit as occupants under the patriarch permit holder.

With the enactment of ULTRA, permit holders were automatically upgraded to title deed holders. The disproportionate number of male permit holders who received full title to the exclusion of their remaining family members, together with the absence of a consultative process to determine the eligibility of permit holders to full title, is widely acknowledged as a major shortcoming of ULTRA.

Section 14A of the ULTRA Amendment provides a remedy to this inequity. It provides a legal mechanism for persons aggrieved by a conversion to full title to approach the court for relief. This relief includes an order setting aside the conversion and registration of a land tenure right or an order which is just and equitable in the circumstances.

The ULTRA Amendment was assented to by the President of the Republic of South Africa on 26 May 2021 and it still to be put into effect by promulgation.

The joint request for promulgation was made in light of the significance of section 14A and the need for a legal mechanism for substantial redress. It was also made in consideration of the 2019 Constitutional Court judgment of Rahube v Rahube & Others, which highlights the impact of ULTRA on equal access to property for women and required Parliament to introduce constitutionally valid procedures for the determination of those proprietary rights.

The request for promulgation was met with an encouraging response from the Office of the Presidency and was shortly followed by the release of draft regulations for public comment from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

SERI and Lawtons Africa welcome this response from the Department and anticipate the positive trajectory that will culminate in the promulgation of the ULTRA Amendment and, significantly, the legal mechanism for redress contained in section 14A.

Sarah Goldman, Head of Pro Bono & Citizenship at Lawtons Africa, acknowledges that the promulgation of the ULTRA Amendment will be a significant step. She notes however that while section 14A provides a mechanism for redress, it is not redress in itself. Affected individuals are still required to approach the courts for the relief they seek and make out a case. She is of the view that this creates an obligation for all legal practitioners to assist affected individuals to access justice. “There is a dire need for pro bono legal services, and without these services, section 14A cannot be effective”, she says.

Senior attorney Nkosinathi Sithole made the following comment: "Laws enacted by the democratic government mustn't be reminiscent of previously discriminatory laws of apartheid, everyone, especially black women, must be given a right to a fair Constitutional redress in democratic South Africa". 


Contact details: 

  • Nkosinathi Sithole, SERI senior attorney: Nkosinathi[at]seri-sa.org.za / 082 589 747
  • Veronica Vurgarellis, Director at Lawtons Africa: veronica.vurgarellis[at]lawtonsafrica / 082 330 8327

Download the statement here.