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Minister of Police to pay damages to Abahlali members for police brutality (22 April 2013).

On 22 April 2013, the Durban High Court ordered the Minister of Police to pay a total of R165 000 in damages to two members of shackdwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo - Sbu Zikode and Philani Zungu – and one resident of the Kennedy Road informal settlement. The order, made by agreement, comes after officers from Sydenham Police Station illegally arrested and assaulted Zungu while he and Zikode were travelling to a radio debate with the then KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Housing, Mike Mabuyakhulu, in September 2006. Other officers from Sydenham Police Station then illegally shot a woman at the Kennedy Road informal settlement. The woman was part of a crowd which had gathered to demonstrate against the arrest of Zikode and Zungu.

  • Read the SERI and Abahlali baseMjondolo media statement here.
  • Read more the case here.

Written submissions filed in Jele electricity matter (17 April 2013).

SERI has filed written submissions in the Jele case, in which we represent 80 tenants of a building in inner city Johannesburg in a hearing before the Gauteng Rental Housing Tribunal. Their complaint concerns the legality of a “service charge” levied by the landlord against them on their electricity accounts. This amount is over and above their consumption of their electricity. The first hearing was held on 20 February 2013, where the matter was postponed to 8 May. Read more on the case here.

  • Written submissions (15 April 2013) here.

Judge hands down engagement order in Rand Leases case (12 April 2013).

On 12 April 2013, Judge Victor in the Johannesburg High Court granted an order stating that the City of Johannesburg must meaningfully engage with occupiers of the Marie Louise informal settlement and the land owner, Rand Leases, about the proposed alternative accommodation plans the latter has drawn up in a draft Memorandum of Understanding. The order also forces the City to comply with previous orders handed down (which included that the City provide the occupiers with building materials), failing which the City may be held in contempt. In the next few weeks SERI will be involved in a series of engagements exploring possible alternative accommodation options for the Marie Louise residents. The matter is back in court on 3 July 2013. Read more on the case here.

  • Draft Memorandum of Understanding (12 April 2013) here.
  • Court order (12 April 2013) here.

Interim relief granted in Ekuthuleni shelter case (10 April 2013).

On 10 April 2013, Judge Satchwell in the Johannesburg High Court granted an interim order in the Dladla (Ekuthuleni shelter) case. The order states that, pending the finalisation of Part B of the application, the Ekuthuleni house rules should be relaxed to the extent that the occupiers are permitted to remain in the shelter during the day; the cut-off time for entering the shelter at night is 22:00 (subject to MES’s discretion to permit people to enter at a later time by prior arrangement); and two of the occupiers are permitted to occupy a separate room at the shelter. The application for final relief will be heard by Judge Satchwell on 21 May 2013.

This application raises fundamental issues concerning the connection between socio-economic rights and the rights to dignity, privacy and freedom and security of the person. The residents are represented by advocates Stuart Wilson and Paul Kennedy SC. See more on the case here.

Papers filed in Thwala rescission application (8 April 2013).

SERI represents a Soweto family in a rescission application challenging a default judgment against them and the sale-in-execution of their home by a bank. In 2002, the Thwala's bond account went into arrears after both the husband and wife lost their jobs. Thereafter, First National Bank (FNB) obtained default judgment against them in August 2003, and then entered into payment arrangements with them in terms of which the bank undertook to stop the sale in execution subject to the Thwalas making further payments towards the bond. On receiving these further payments, FNB stopped the sale-in-execution and continued to run the bond account as if it had never obtained a default judgment. Seven years later, the bank reneged on its agreement and proceeded to sell the property in execution without first approaching a court for leave to do so. In February 2012, the new owner launched an eviction application against the family.

SERI has filed its heads of argument and FNB now has 10 days to file its heads, and then the matter will be allocated for hearing - possibly in May or June 2013.

  • Read more on the case and SERI's arguments here.