Conflict management in an era of urbanisation: 20 years of housing rights in the South African Constitutional Court

Authors Stuart Wilson, Jackie Dugard, Michael Clark

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI); Visiting Senior Fellow, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand; and practicing advocate, Johannesburg Bar; Associate Professor, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand; and honorary senior researcher, SERI; Legal Researcher, Centre for Law and Society, University of Cape Town
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 31 Issue 3, 2015, p. 472 – 503


Over the past 20 years, of the 23 socio-economic rights decisions handed down by the South African Constitutional Court, 15 judgments have related to the s 26 right to adequate housing, making it by far the most litigated socio-economic right. The relative frequency of housing rights cases before the Constitutional Court relates to the intensity of post-apartheid struggles over access to urban and peri-urban land. Analysing the contours and consequences of the housing rights related judgments over the past 20 years, we highlight the Constitutional Court’s role as arbiter of clashing rights of ownership and occupation in the context of evolving and inadequately-managed urbanisation.