Life after judgment: the Nokotyana case re-examined
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The progressive realisation of socio-economic rights as enshrined in South Africa's Constitution remains a pipe dream for many poor and vulnerable people, 23 years after the collapse of apartheid. In the case of Nokotyana and Others v Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and Others, the Constitutional Court (CC) decided 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 compelled 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 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 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. The findings highlight the complexities surrounding implementation of the court judgement.