Black Sash Khulumas

The Black Sash held its first 2019 Khuluma on 28 February in Mowbray, Cape Town.  Black Sash Trustee, Nolundi Luwaya, interviewed guest speaker Charles Abrahams, lawyer and author of his debut book "Class Action: In pursuit of a larger life".  The life of Charles Abrahams led him to study law, first in SA and then abroad - from the cape flats to law school in Amsterdam, to the courts in the United States. His work with the Black Sash, COSATU and the Children’s Resources Centre on the bread price fixing case, resulted in the right to Class Action. He and his associates used class action successfully to ensure that corporates in the mining sector and elsewhere take responsibility for their actions.

Watch the video of this Khuluma below.

Black Sash in 2018 is running a series of Khulumas ( conversations) on poverty and inequality. The first conversation was about the way forward for the captured state of social grants, while the second one explored land expropriation and the possibilities of a more inclusive city. We are hoping to hold another two this year on similar topical issues relative to poverty and inequality in South Africa.

Watch the video of our first Khuluma below.

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Education and Public Outreach

Dullah Omar School for the Advice Office Sector

The Dullah Omar School was conceptualised in response to the need to formalise and standardise the paralegal sector at community-based advice offices. The inaugural Dullah Omar School was held in Johannesburg, in March 2015, and provided a significant learning platform to more than 120 participants from Community advice offices across all the provinces in South Africa.

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Download The Black Sash Model of Community Based Monitoring Report

Social Security Seminars

The aim of these seminars was to stimulate debate in support of how to respond to the needs of unemployed and destitute adults and to put income squarely on the agenda.

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Download the Black Sash Social Security Seminar Report (2016)

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Social Security Seminar

A space for civil society and others to reflect on and actively work towards the progressive realisation of social security (assistance and insurance) as a constitutional right.

Aim of the Project

The right to social security, including social assistance, is entrenched in South Africa’s constitution as a fundamental human right. Government is under the obligation to realize this right progressively as an important tool to address poverty and inequality. 

In November 2016, the Department of Social Development (DSD) released the Comprehensive Social Security Plan through National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). Missing from this plan is income support for those between 19 to 59 years, who are unemployed or precariously employed.

South Africa’s positive economic growth over a 20 year period has not translated in any meaningful employment creation. Roughly half of our population, including two thirds of all children, live in poverty. The prospects of the economy generating any jobs for a population that has missed out on education, training and skills that match the labour market needs are very slim.

While the country should endeavor to grow the economy, create employment opportunities such as implementing industrial policies, consider labour market reforms and expanding public works opportunities, these initiatives, realistically assessed will not accommodate the most desperate in the near future. 

Apart from developing a considered response via NEDLAC, the Black Sash together with civil society partners will engage in research, education and advocacy to ensure that the plan going forward addresses the need for income support. 

2018 Seminar

This report documents presentations made at the third Social Security Seminar on a range of topics related to comprehensive social security for South Africans, in particular adults aged 18–59, among whom there is a high level of unemployment and no social assistance. 
The purpose of the seminar was to engage in the complexities of social security in South Africa and to take forward the formation of a Coalition focused on comprehensive social security advocacy. Presentations by multiple experts provided a stimulus for those assembled to use as a departure point for group work that built towards a campaign concept and elements to inform a draft strategy.

Read the full report on the 2018 Seminar here

2016 Seminar

In 2016, the Black Sash, Economic Policy and Research Institute (EPRI) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung organised a two and half day seminar titled Facing a World Without Full Employment: Social Assistance for All. The aim of the seminar was twofold: to deepen the collective knowledge of the challenges facing unemployed and poor adults and to develop an advocacy strategy.

Read the full report on the 2016 Seminar here

2015 Seminar

Our first annual Social Security Seminar was hosted by the Black Sash in partnership with Action Aid and EPRI in August 2015. A space was created for civil society and government to reflect on the road travelled to date and to work towards the creation of a social security agenda for the next 10 years. Speakers included Prof Viviene Taylor (UCT), who provided an overview of the context and the challenges; Professor Alex van der Heever (WITS) who was clear that a “social insurance fund is vulnerable to government corruption and government services…and requires an investment in an Education & Public Reach 15 accountability framework”; and Brenda Sibeko (DSD) who noted the challenges of “a fragmented policy-making unit.” 

Read the full report on the 2015 Seminar here

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The Dullah Omar School for the Advice Office Sector

To strengthen and revitalize the Community Advice Office (CAO) sector. 

Aim of the Project

The School is now institutionalised as an ACAOSA programme, and Black Sash has moved into the role of education and training partner (see reports from 2016 and 2017). 

The Dullah Omar School was conceptualized to achieve the following: 

  • Offer paralegals in the advice office sector, particularly women and the youth, an opportunity to engage in horizontal and vertical learning; engage about practice and enhance activism. It currently offers both accredited and non-accredited training. 
  • Raise the profile of the community-based advice office sector and their role in facilitating access to human rights and justice.
  • Networking; exposure to relevant legal instruments; and be the forum to collect issues for further advocacy, e.g. the right for paralegals to represent poor people at the CCMA.

The inaugural Dullah Omar School was held in Johannesburg, in March 2015, and provided a significant learning platform to more than 120 participants from community advice offices across all the provinces in South Africa. Two schools have been held since then.

Contributors to the school, including key organisations working on human rights issues, were invited to provide teaching input on five important content areas that paralegals often encounter in their dealings with communities. The content areas included Labour Law, Social Security and Assistance, Family Law, Local Government and Using the Paralegal Manual.

Another stream of the work was to develop a national Education and Training strategy, which would formalize and develop the capacity of the paralegal sector. Invited guest speakers from academic institutions, provided input and presentations highlighting their experiences and lessons learnt in formalizing the accreditation of non-professional entities. Academic institutions will continue to provide guidance and assistance towards regulating the content and supporting accreditation.

In the 2016 the Black Sash piloted the citizen-based monitoring course modules, and in 2017 we piloted the advocacy module. 

The 2017 Dullah Omar School was made possible with funding from the CS Mott Foundation and the Open Society Foundation - South Africa.


The Third Dullah Omar School Report 2017


The Third Dullah Omar School Report 2017 - Summary


The Inaugural Dullah Omar School Report 2015

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