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[NEWSLETTER] SERI's latest newsletter is out (1 June 2023).

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This is SERI’s first newsletter for 2023. In it we present a few highlights from our work in the four-month period (January to April) since our last newsletter in December 2022.

During this period SERI saw some encouraging financial settlements awarded to Abahlali baseMjondolo leader Melita Ngcobo and to the Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) shop steward Ronwan Rademeyer. SERI also took part in a number of collaborative civil society engagements including the inaugural Social Justice Assembly in January, the international social movement gathering hosted by Abahlali baseMjondolo and the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) in February and a Local Government in Crisis Convening in March.

Access the full newsletter here

[LITIGATION UPDATE] Application against Operation Dudula (24 May 2023).

Today, 24 May 2023, SERI and its clients are publicly launching their case to hold xenophobic and racist speech and conduct to account by way of a media briefing in Johannesburg.

This follows SERI’s launch, on Tuesday 16 May 2023, of an application in the Johannesburg High Court on behalf of Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia (KAAX), the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF), the Inner City Federation (ICF) and Abahlali BaseMjondolo to seek relief against Operation Dudula and certain of its office-bearers in respect of ongoing xenophobic and racist speech and conduct, and against the relevant organs of state for failing to discharge their duties in relation to Operation Dudula’s unlawful conduct.

The applicants seek an order prohibiting Operation Dudula from various actions, including intimidating and harassing people, demanding to check identity documents, forcing businesses to close or preventing informal traders from operating, evicting people from their homes without a court order, wearing uniforms that resemble those of the police or army, denying people access to healthcare, and removing students and teachers from schools because of their nationality.

Because of the threats and acts of violence by Operation Dudula members against members of the public, the applicants seek an initial special order protecting the identities of the approximately 40 individuals who have given personal affidavit evidence of Operation Dudula’s unlawful conduct. In the court papers, their names will not be disclosed to the public.

The applicants also seek orders against relevant organs of state. These include orders requiring Government to implement fully its plan relating to racism and xenophobia, interdicting the South African Police Service and the Department of Home Affairs from colluding with Operation Dudula or conducting dragnet raids targeting whole communities at Operation Dudula’s instigation, and requiring the SAPS to investigate the crimes committed by Operation Dudula.

  • Access the redacted founding affidavit here.

[PRESS STATEMENT] SERI condemns unlawful raids and war on the poor by City of Johannesburg’s Acting Mayor (16 May 2023).

Screenshot Presser Kenny Kunene RaidsOn Monday, 15 May 2023, the Acting Mayor of Johannesburg, Kenny Kunene and his team raided buildings in Johannesburg. During these unlawful raids, the team conducted searches, threatened to evict residents and were recorded demolishing one building in Windsor East all without any authorising court order. SERI is appalled by the recent actions and approach of the City of Johannesburg under the leadership of Acting Mayor which are targeted at poor people living in the inner city.  At a time when the City is grappling with numerous challenges, it is disconcerting that the primary focus of the new Acting Mayor is to subject vulnerable communities to unconstitutional conduct that violate their fundamental rights to dignity and privacy.

Of utmost concern is the fact that these unlawful raids predominantly affect the same people who have previously endured victimisation under different mayoral regimes. In response to their suffering under former Mayor Herman Mashaba’s tenure, the affected residents sought recourse from the Constitutional Court, culminating in the landmark decision in Residents of Industry House and Others v Minister of Police and Others. The court held that these raids “were conducted for an ulterior purpose, which is an abuse of power indicating wanton and calculated disregard of the law by the City and a predacious, mechanical scheme to terrorise and forcibly evict suspected unlawful occupiers, under the guise of restoring public order.”

The court reaffirmed that the residents’ rights to dignity and privacy are fundamental constitutional rights. Regrettably, despite the clear condemnation of these raids by the Constitutional Court, the City continues to undermine the court’s judgment. This persistent disregard for court decisions poses a direct threat to the rule of law and erodes the integrity of our legal system. 


SERI strongly condemns the conduct and attitude displayed by the City of Johannesburg towards its most impoverished residents. These residents already face the risk of eviction and are desperately awaiting adequate housing solutions from the City. We call upon the City to rectify its course and refrain from unlawful conduct. We also urge the City to urgently devise and implement a comprehensive housing strategy that addresses the needs and rights of its vulnerable residents.

Contact details:  

  • Khululiwe Bhengu, SERI attorney: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Zolile Shude, SERI candidate attorney: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Edward Molopi, SERI senior communications officer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Download the full statement here

 

[JOB OPPORTUNITIES] SERI seeks to hire a financial manager (4 May 2023).

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) invites applications for the post of Financial Manager.
 
SERI is one of South Africa’s leading human rights organisations and is internationally recognised for its award-winning work. SERI works with communities, social movements, individuals, and other non-profit organisations in South Africa and beyond to develop and implement strategies to challenge inequality and realise socio-economic rights. You can find out more about SERI on www.seri-sa.org.
 
Reporting to the Executive Director, the Financial Manager will be responsible for implementing the organisation’s financial policies, procedures, and administration. The Financial Manager  will work closely with the Executive Director to ensure the financial health of the organisation. The successful candidate will sit on the management committee and contribute strategic financial advice.  
 
We are looking for someone with the following qualifications, skills, and experience – 
·      B Com degree with accounting major or CIMA/ACCA qualification.
·      5 years post-qualification experience in financial and grant(s) management.
·      Demonstrable experience in donor financial reporting. 
·      Experience in managing organisational annual audits.
·      Experience in developing and reporting on organisational budgets.
·      Experience in developing and reporting on financial budgets and preparing monthly financial management accounts. 
 
SERI offers a competitive salary starting at R600 000 to be determined based on the successful candidate’s qualifications and experience. The appointment will take effect on 15 June 2023.
 
SERI is committed to transformation. Black South Africans and women and persons living with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply for this post. 
 
If you are interested in this post, please send your CV, together with a covering letter, to Sanele Garane at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
In your cover letter, please explain why you are interested in working for SERI, and what qualities and experience you would bring to the post. Generalised covering letters which do not engage with SERI’s activities and purpose will not be considered.
 
The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 10 May 2023.  Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and will be expected to make themselves available for an interview in the week of 15 May 2023.

  • View the advertisement here.

[PRESS STATEMENT] Cape Town inner city occupiers oppose eviction by the municipality (21 April 2023).

Cape Town evictionsOn Wednesday, 19 April 2023, SERI appeared in the Cape Town High Court on behalf of occupiers of the Cape Town inner city to oppose their eviction by the Municipality. The occupiers approached SERI to oppose the imminent eviction from their homes, and to ensure that the eviction is just and equitable. The occupiers are homeless people occupying several locations in ­the Central Business District.


SERI filed the occupiers’ notice of intention to oppose as soon as the occupiers’ instructions were confirmed. Prior to SERI’s involvement the occupiers faced the prospect of being evicted from their homes without the court being presented with all the relevant circumstances by the occupiers. This is necessary to ensure that the occupiers receive a fair and just hearing in court and that the eviction is just and equitable. The occupiers have a Constitutional right to legal representation and SERI’s representation of the occupiers ensures that they are active participants in a matter that concerns their constitutional rights. The matter has now been removed from the Court’s roll of unopposed matters to allow the occupiers to file their answering affidavit as litigants in the matter.  


SERI remains concerned about the housing crisis in South Africa. The eviction of poor people from their places of residence without a process through which to meaningfully engage, and without the provision of suitable alternative accommodation, only serves to exacerbate the crisis. 


SERI has noted with concern the comments made by the City of Cape Town in its statement characterising our involvement in the matter as a delay. It is important to note that the timelines for the case were agreed with the City. Therefore, it is surprising that the City is now seeking to characterise our involvement as a delay. The Court has afforded the occupiers an opportunity to compile and file their answering affidavit, which is a normal procedure in litigation and is in fact, a necessary step in the legal process.
SERI remains committed to working towards a fair and just resolution for all parties and will continue to work with the affected communities to seek a long-term solution to the matter. 


Contact details:  

  • Khululiwe Bhengu, SERI senior attorney, khululiwe[at]seri-sa.org 
  • Khuselwa Dyantyi, SERI attorney, khuselwa[at]seri-sa.org
  • Zolile Shude, SERI candidate attorney, zolile[at]seri-sa.org

Download the full statement here