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Ministry condemns attacks on Socio-Economic Rights Institute

03 August 2022

The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services, has noted with concern the flagrant and complete disdain with which the City of Johannesburg's Member of the Mayoral Committee on Economic Development has treated the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri).

Seri is a non-profit human rights organisation which has been involved in litigation, over many years, to protect the rights of informal traders. Seri has supported the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) with a successful application to the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court. Last week the Court ordered the City to reverse the illegal eviction of information traders from the De Villiers trading precinct.

The MMC’s actions have been a blatant violation of a court order and show a total disregard for court decisions.

The MMC has also endangered the lives of Seri’s staff by placing pictures of Seri staff and their respective cellphone numbers on social media and baiting xenophobic elements in our communities to target these individuals.

The MMC's tweets have incited threats of violence against Seri including, amongst others, the burning down of Seri’s offices, killing the lawyers who represented the informal traders and harm other Seri staff. As a result Seri has had to temporarily close its offices.

We call upon the Information Regulator to investigate these actions in line with the Protection of Personal Information Act. 

Court orders are vital to the rule of law. We urge the City of Johannesburg Mayor to ensure that orders made by our courts are upheld and respected. To simply condemn the unlawful actions of this MMC is not enough.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery, said - 
“It is important to stress that the right to legal representation is fundamental. Every person has the right to have their case heard before a court of law. Legal practitioners represent their clients and the rights of their clients. They cannot and should not ever be harassed and intimated for doing their jobs.

Furthermore, Seri is a non-profit human rights organisation. Any attack on a human rights organisation is an attack on democracy itself.


Issued by the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services

Mr Chrispin Phiri
Spokesperson: Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
081 781 2261