PILG 2017 Schedule and Panels:


Monday, 24 July 2017


  1. Women’s Rights to Equality and Autonomy
    Women’s Legal Centre

10:00 – 11:30: Violence against women: Police accountability and victim’s constitutional rights
11:45 – 13:15: “We want police to see the human in us, not just Makgosha” – Sexworker: An analysis of the impact of human rights violations by police against sex workers
14:30 – 16:00: Where is the Domestic Partnership Bill? Striving towards the recognition of de facto co-habiting relationships

Contact Aretha Louw Aretha@wlce.co.za for further details.


  1. Digital Security Workshop: An activist’s (or ordinary citizen’s) guide to protecting your communications
    Legal Resources Centre

    Venue: 1B

When faced with the possibility that they are under surveillance, many people believe that they have nothing to hide. Not only do you have a right to privacy, but so do the people who interact with you – sometimes people who are already in a vulnerable position and require your protection. Many activists, staff at non-profit organisations and journalists, as well as ordinary citizens, are facing the very real possibility that their communications are being intercepted, sometimes unlawfully. And this surveillance is becoming more pervasive and nefarious. At the Public Interest Law Gathering, the Legal Resources Centre is offering a free, practical workshop to teach you how to protect your technology, information and communications from surveillance. You will be exposed to basic encryption tools, password managers and secure browsers. Participants will be asked to bring their devices in order to engage in a hands-on manner.

Contact Tsanga Mukumba Tsanga@lrc.org.za for further details.

  1. Mining and Environmental Justice
    Centre for Environmental Rights, Centre for Applied Studies and Lawyers for Human Rights
    Venue: 1D (closed meeting)

The meeting will be structured around four themes:

  1. Reform of the Department of Mineral Resources
  2. Intimidation of environmental justice activists and legal representatives
  3. MPRDA amendment
  4. One Environmental System

The morning session will be focused on updates in relation to the strategy agreed on in July 2016 and the afternoon session dedicated to forward planning on the four thematic areas.


Tuesday, 25 July


10:00 – 11:15


Opening Remarks: Professor Vivienne Lawack, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, UWC

Keynote address: Former President Kgalema Motlanthe

Venue: 1A & 1B


11:15 – 11:30



11:30 – 13:00

Community service in terms of the Legal Practice Act – does it enhance access to justice?
ProBono.Org & Women’s Legal Centre
Venue: 1G

The concept of “community service” to be conducted by legal practitioners and candidate legal practitioners was introduced by the Legal Practice Act (LPA). The Act is set to transform the legal system in South Africa, potentially making access to justice easier for many South Africans who cannot afford legal services.

Section 29 of the LPA provides for a wide range of community service activities which include service for the state, service at the South African Human Rights Commission and service as a judicial officer (commissioner) in small claims courts. It also provides that the provision of legal education and training may constitute community service, and states that other services can be added with the approval of the Minister.

The panellists will discuss the implications of the Section 29 community service provisions for the legal profession and law faculties and whether they go far enough to ensure access to justice. While options, such as providing training, service to the state and acting as a commissioner at a small claims court are important options, it is critical that a substantial majority of the recurring community service hours be devoted to case work and direct legal assistance to people unable to afford private legal fees. The Act does not make this explicit nor does it mention pro bono as a form of community service. This omission is highly problematic in a context where access to legal assistance is beyond the financial reach of hundreds of thousands of poor people.

The panel will consider the Act by referring to the role of students, law faculties and private attorneys and advocates (legal practitioners) in the provision of community service and the promotion of access to justice.

Panellists: Ilan Lax (Board member, ProBono.Org and previous chairperson of the LSSA Pro Bono Legal Committee), Daven Dass (South African University Law Clinics Association, Director Wits Law Clinic), Professor Penny Andrews (Dean, UCT Faculty of Law), Tshenolo Masha (ProBono.Org)
Respondent: Nikhiel Deeplal (SLSJ)
Facilitator: Seehaam Samaai (Women’s Legal Centre)


Protecting the rights of casual workers
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)
Venue: 1A

Internationally, ‘labour flexibility’ has been the underlying philosophy guiding state and employer reform of labour markets over the past 20 to 30 years, ostensibly in response to intensified competition caused by globalization. Employers have completely reorganised the employment relation by increasingly using more and more contract or casual labour. In some instances such labour is directly employed, in others it is supplied by temporary employment services, or labour brokers. So dramatic is this reorganisation of the employment relation that in at least 29% of cases at the CCMA involving labour brokers, workers do not know who their employer is. The overall effect of this change in the employment relation has been to dramatically weaken all workers and the trade unions, opening workers up to extreme exploitation in the process. Trade unions globally are struggling to come to terms with this new terrain of organising, with both the traditional worker and traditional workplace having been radically transformed.

In South Africa, temporary, casualised and informal work has become commonplace in the hospitality, construction and retail sectors. However, in August 2014, the Presidency promulgated the Labour Relations Amendment Act 6 of 2014 (“LRAA”) which gives major new rights to casual workers and redefines the relationship between labour brokers, workers and the ‘client’ with whom they are placed. In the recent cases, Assign Services (Pty) Ltd v CCMA and Others, the Labour Court was asked to review the decision of the CCMA, in terms of which it had ruled that the client was deemed to be the ‘sole employer’ of the placed employee. The aim of the panel is to discuss the impact of the new legislation on the protection of precarious workers and recent success of the #OutsourcingMustFall campaign.

Panellists: Lesirela Letsebe (Lawyers for Human Rights, Pretoria Bar), Suzanna Harvey (Cape Bar), Ighsaan Schroeder (Casual Workers Advice Office)
Facilitator: Wayne Ncube (Lawyers for Human Rights)


The role of civil society in political society and the judicialisation of politics
Venue: 1B

This panel will interrogate the role, if any, to be played by civil society organisations in the broader political environment and the reliance on courts to resolve political uncertainties.

Panellists: Thabang Pooe (SECTION27), Angelo Fick (eNCA), Alex Hotz (Rhodes Must Fall), Lebogang Nape (Community Healthcare Worker)
Facilitator: Lwazi Lushaba (University of Cape Town)


13:00 – 14:00 ~ Lunch Break

#UniteBehind Civil Society Announcement (1A & 1B)


14:00 – 15:30

Public interest law clinics and direct access to legal and other services

Socio-economic Rights Institute (SERI) & SECTION27
Venue: 1G

With a growing media presence of public interest organisations and an ongoing denial of basic services to people across South Africa, there is an increasing demand for direct legal and other services. How can our organisations best work together to maximise the impact of these legal services and ensure that we provide individuals with whatever assistance we can?

Panellists: Erica Emdon (ProBono.Org), Thuthukile (SECTION27), Wayne Ncube (LHR), Riette du Plessis (WITS)
Facilitator: Dasantha Pillay (SERI)


The role of regional and international bodies in protecting human rights
Legal Resources Centre (LRC)
Venue: 1B

South African representatives currently hold key positions before regional and international bodies, such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. South Africa has also been up for review before a number of treaty bodies, including the Universal Periodic Review earlier this year, and has made various human rights commitments in light of these reviews. This panel will discuss the purpose and use of engaging with regional and international mechanisms, and consider strategies for expanding, coordinating and improving civil society’s engagement with these bodies.

Panellists: Ann Skelton (United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Centre for Child Law), Ololade (Lola) Shyllon (Centre for Human Rights), Corlett Letlojane (Human Rights Institute of South Africa)
Facilitator: Wilmien Wicomb (LRC)


Challenging laws which criminalise poverty
Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC)
Venue: 1A

There are many laws – often a remnant of colonial-era legislation – which criminalise poverty in Southern Africa. These petty offenses are regularly used against the most vulnerable in society and are no longer appropriate in constitutional dispensations with respect for dignity and other fundamental human rights. The Malawi High Court has declared a penal code provision which criminalised being a “rogue and vagabond” unconstitutional and this judgment could provide a springboard for the decriminalisation of other petty offenses throughout the region.

Panellists: Melody Kozah (African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum), Kristen Petersen (Africa Criminal Justice Reform), Chumile Sali (Social Justice Coalition)
Facilitator: Aquinaldo Mandlate (SALC)


15:30 – 15:45 ~ Break            

15:45 – 17:15

Regulating and enabling disruptive protest
Socio-economic Rights Institute (SERI) & Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS)
Venue: 1A

Disruptive protest is poorly understood and weakly articulated with the law. The reversion to criminal justice system measures to regulate protest is problematic.
This panel will debate a disruptive theory of protest; its relation with section 17 of the Constitution, and explore issues pertaining to the regulation of disruptive protest.

Panellists: Sherilyn Naidoo (Right2Protest Project), Axolile Notywala (Social Justice Coalition), Peter Alexander (Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg)
Facilitator: Dasantha Pillay (SERI)


Gender Transformation in the Public Interest Litigation Sector
Women’s Legal Centre (WLC)
Venue: 1G

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) Sector has not been without its transformation challenges. The panel will discuss challenges (stereotypes and barriers) within the PIL Sector, the role of legal NGOs and organised legal structures in supporting women lawyers within the public interest legal sector. Panellists will further explore and identify achievable objectives on increasing the number of black women litigating within the PIL Sector and how to create an enabling environment for black women within the PIL Sector.

Panellists: Ofentse Motlhasedi (Black Workers Forum), Mimi Memka (Law Society of South Africa – Women Task Team), Keketso Maema (Commission for Gender Equality), Nolukhanyiso Gcilitshana (South African Women Lawyers)
Facilitator: Charlene May (Legal Resources Centre)


The struggle for urban land justice: a facilitated discussion between activists/social movements and public interest lawyers on legal strategies and a new urban politics
Ndifuna Ukwazi & Students for Law and Social Justice
Venue: 1B

How can activism and public interest law further the struggle for urban land justice? Spatial apartheid and inequality live on in South African cities. All spheres of government have not acted effectively to address the urban land question, and an unregulated private sector entrenches this inequality. From Marikana informal settlement, to Eldorado Park, to Sea Point, the struggle for land justice in our cities continues. What are the current tactics being used by activists in the struggle for land? What are the strategies of public interest lawyers in this struggle?

Panellists: Elizabeth Gqoboka (Reclaim The City Activist), Mandisa Shandu (Ndifuna Ukwazi), Ndumiso Lebohang Dube (Students for Law & Social Justice), Thulani Nkosi (SERI), Boitumelo Ramahlele (Former Marikana Occupier & CSAAWU Paralegal)
Facilitator: Sarita Pillay (Ndifuna Ukwazi)


17:20 – 18:00 Networkingevent


Wednesday, 26 July

9:00 – 10:30


Transformation in the Public Interest Law Sector: Where Do We Go From Here?
Black Workers Forum
Venue: 1A & 1B

The formation of the Black Workers Forum (BWF) at PILG 2016 was a noteworthy and historical event. It highlighted the pressing need for transformation and expressed the levels of dissatisfaction by black members of the sector. Since its formation as the ‘Young Black Professionals’, BWF has engaged key members in the sector and has developed key documents expressing its views on transformation.

This plenary session is intended to deal with the issues BWF has raised and how the sector has responded to the demands of black workers – a year later. It aims to host a conversation between key representatives from the sector post the formation of the BWF and the recommendations and/or demands made by the BWF to the various organisations. The primary goal is to hear from all stakeholders on their understanding, commitment to, steps taken and method of working towards achievement of transformation in the sector.

Panellists: Dugan Fraser (RAITH Foundation), Nomzamo Zondo (SERI), Zamantungwa Khumalo (BWF)
Facilitator: Thabang Pooe (BWF)


10:30 – 11:00 ~ Break

11:00 – 12:30

South Africa’s Legislatures and the Courts: A zero sum game?
Dullah Omar Institute
Venue: 1G

In the fight against corruption and the quest for functional government that can deliver services, it seems the court have been shifted from the last line, to the only line of defense. Increasingly they are being called upon to fulfil the role of legislatures – namely hold the executive and administrators to account. This panel will engage with questions regarding the interplay between the legislatures and the courts in our democracy. Does the recent spate of high profile court cases involving the President and Cabinet Ministers mean that we have given up on the legislatures, and if so what are the implications of that for our democratic system? Legislatures are regularly informed on the performance of government departments and frequently fail to act on that information until a crisis point is reached, if at all. Should the courts be engaged in strategies calling the failing legislatures to account on inadequate oversight over failed accountability on issues such as the SABC board, social grants, basic education, transformation of police resourcing and so forth? Thirdly, in terms of the legislatures’ political functions are we witnessing an unsustainable and potentially dangerous judicialisation of politics driven by party-political interests, or rather a proper expression of the role of courts in a constitutional democracy? Finally, how have our courts dealt with these pressures thus far and how may the recent jurisprudence influence the interplay between courts and legislatures in the future?

Panellists: Steven Friedman, Tshepo Motshepe, Nonhlanhla Chanza (Law Society of South Africa)
Facilitator: Samantha Waterhouse (Dullah Omar Institute)


Who to hold accountable?
Cooperative governance and the delivery of socio-economic rights
Equal Education Law Centre (EELC)
Venue: 1A

The realisation of socio-economic rights often depends on effective intergovernmental cooperation within and between all levels of government. Across sectors, however, effective cooperative governance rarely occurs with departments often passing on the responsibility of ensuring service delivery or implementation of policies between each other. This panel will explore the extent to which lack of intergovernmental cooperating is impeding the fulfilment of socio-economic rights, and the ability to hold state actors accountable, with case studies from the education, health and housing sectors.

Panellists: Demichelle Petherbridge (EELC), Mhpumeleli Sikhona (SECTION27), Mosa Phadi (Public Affairs Research Institute), Alana Potter (SERI)
Facilitator: Mbekezeli Benjamin (Equal Education Law Centre)


The relationship between constitutionalism and radical economic transformation
Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS)
Venue: 1B

When our Constitution was certified in 1996, it was widely acclaimed both locally and globally for its progressive and transformative nature. More particularly it was praised for its transformative rather than conservative vision, for its substantive approach to equality and its inclusion of second and third generation rights in addition to civil and political rights. However, given the persistence of vast socio-economic inequality (with estimates having SA’s Gini co-efficient as among the highest, if not the highest, in the world) and the persistence of strong racialised and gendered patterns of inequality, it is not surprising that the constitutional framework is increasingly being challenged, especially by a new generation of scholars and activists. Whilst the most prevalent critique relates to the property clause, there are increasing challenges also to the concept of constitutionalism itself. These critiques are based on a number of ideas which include that constitutionalism is a Eurocentric imported model, that constitutionalism is an expression of bourgeois rather than radical democracy, and finally that the constitutionalism accords too much power to an unelected judicial elite. This panel will debate these critiques and address the question of the relationship between constitutional democracy and radical change.

Panellists: Nolundi Luwaya (Centre for Law and Society, UCT), Mazibuko Jara (Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda), Anele Nzimande (Aluna)
Facilitator: Robert Krause (CALS)


12:30 – 13:30

Lunch & Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) Panel

Decolonising our legal education: A decolonised country with a colonised legal education
Students for Law & Social Justice (SLSJ)
Venue: 1A & 1B

South Africa was a colony of the British; therefore our current legal system is essentially a combination of English law and Roman-Dutch Law. We ask for our legal education to be decolonised – but how? Where do we start? We ask these questions because in theory, decolonising our legal education seems good, but where do we start when we want to implement this notion? The truth is that so much of our legal education is centred on foreign philosophers. For example, in the module “Jurisprudence” African legal history is a topic deemed so small and perceived to carry so little weight that it is only afforded a sub-heading in a module outline. Therefore, the impact and significance of our history is greatly overlooked. Decolonising our legal education is a huge task – the questions are where and how do we start?

Panellists: Thabo Lawrence Mohala (UWC), Mohala Anawo (Walter Sisulu University), Majaletje Mathume (University of Stellenbosch) Nthabiseng Monakali (UWC), Kyle Dalton (University of Pretoria)
Facilitator: Ashleigh Le Fleur (UWC)


13:45 – 15:15

Strategic litigation for openness and accountability in the energy sector
Centre for Environmental Rights & Legal Resources Centre
Venue: 1B

The energy sector is a key driver of the economy, yet energy governance and procurement is plagued by lack of capacity, transparency and so far appears to lack the ability or desire to deliver a sustainable energy mix. The reasons are various and complex. Civil society litigation challenges have been successful – but how should we build on the achievements so far in nuclear, climate change and energy mix challenges to ensure financial and environmental sustainability, and transformation in the sector?

Panellists: Nicole Löser (CER), Adrian Pole (Adrian Pole Attorneys), Makoma Lekalakala (Earthlife Africa)
Facilitator: Robyn Hugo (CER)


Effective Remedies and Accountability
SECTION27, Equal Education Law Centre, Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Venue: 1G

A common experience among public interest lawyers is the frustration that securing a court order is often not enough to secure meaningful change. In the context where court orders are often ignored, what other strategies are there to ensure that public interest litigation achieves its objective? How do we ensure accountability for violations of rights, and to prevent future breaches?

Panellists: Amanda Rinquest (Equal Education), Lynette Maart (Black Sash), Tendai Mafuma (SECTION27)
Facilitator: Teboho Mosikili (Johannesburg Bar)


Crisis in Social Care Services: Legal Solutions
Lawyers for Human Rights
Venue: 1A

South African civil society is well-aware of the shrinking space available to us for progressive advocacy and political dissent. However, there is another area where our space is under pressure that requires urgent attention.

The overwhelming majority of social care services in SA are provided by NGOs, with this work overwhelmingly performed by women, largely for women and child beneficiaries. These services include post-rape care, shelters for abused women, child and youth care centres, care for the aged and persons with disabilities, programmes aimed at substance abuse. Many of these services are legislated state services. All are crucial in protecting, respecting, and promoting human rights.

The government, mostly Department of Social Development and Department of Health, never fully funds the organisations to provide these services. It relies on the fact that international and other donors will fund large portions of the services, and only provides a partial subsidy, in the form of monetary transfers. These subsidies, how large or small they are, to whom they are given, and how they are managed, are at the heart of large-scale and harmful constriction of service NGOs, at the expense of beneficiaries.

This panel will interrogate the roots of the problem, their very real impact on services, and how the law can or cannot be used to fix the problems.

Panellists: Lisa Vetten (WITS City Institute), Mpule Thejane-Lenyehelo (A Re Ageng Social Services), Matodzi Amisi (Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation)
Facilitator: Sanja Bornman (LHR)


15:30 – 16:00 ~ Closing Session

Venue: 1A & 1B