The Constitutional Right to Housing in South Africa: The Government of the Republic of South Africa vs. Irene Grootboom (Sequel)


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  • Product Description

    This is an 8-page sequel to HKS Case 1627.0. The 1996 "post-apartheid" constitution of South Africa enumerates a variety of specific rights, among them a guarantee of access to housing and a right to shelter for children. Yet many millions of South Africans continued to live in shantytowns or worse, even after passage of the new Constitution. This case tells the story of one instance in which South African aspirations and realities collide. It focuses on a lawsuit filed by the resident of a shantytown known as Wallacedene, not far from Cape Town. Irene Grootboom cites the provisions of the South Africa Constitution's Bill of Rights in calling on the nation's Constitutional Court, its highest, to mandate that the government provide improved housing for herself and some 900 other residents of Wallacedene.

    Learning Objective:
    In looking at the Grootboom lawsuit, the case provides a vehicle for consideration of the meaning of positive rights in a developing country such as South Africa, struggling with a wide range of social problems, especially the AIDS epidemic, in addition to the ills identified by the Grootboom plaintiffs. Should positive rights be considered a promise, or merely "aspirational"? How should the court rule?

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: October 01, 2001
    HKS Case Number: 1627.1
    Case Author: Daniel Schneider
    Faculty Lead: Michael Ignatieff
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 8
    Setting: South Africa
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Roy Family Fund via the Women in Public Policy Program
    _year: 2000-2009
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: Africa
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