Accepted paper:

Life after judgment: the Nokotyana case re-examined


Paper short abstract:

This paper assesses the extent to which the state implemented a landmark constitutional court ruling that sought to address housing provision for residents of an informal settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Paper long abstract:

The progressive realisation of socio-economic rights as enshrined in South Africa's Constitution still remains a pipe dream for many poor and vulnerable people, 21 years after the collapse of apartheid. In the case of Nokotyana and Others v Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and Others the Constitutional Court (CC) had to decide on the interpretation of the rights of access to basic services such as sanitation and high mast lighting. In this case, community members from Harry Gwala informal settlement near Johannesburg sought to compel the state through courts of law to upgrade the settlement and to provide basic services. Although the CC did not engage with the content of the socio-economic rights being claimed by the community, it did eventually order the state to upgrade the settlement within fourteen months of the judgment. This article discusses the extent to which the state has complied with the judgement and what kinds of challenges were experienced in implementing the court order. Empirical data was collected through interviews with different actors who were involved in the case either directly or indirectly. The findings point out the complexities surrounding implementation of the court judgement, which require innovative solutions.

panel P201
Contested justice: Legal and judicial pluralism in urban settings and renegotiations of the law from urban to rural domains