It all started 6 weeks ago when a resident by the name of Jennifer was concerned about the reclaimers staying next to the N1 at Malibongwe drive (in the north of Johannesburg). She contacted Louis Mahlangu, who is an African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO) organiser, to come and help the reclaimers because they were about to be evicted by the Metro police.
The residents staying in the complexes next to the Jukskei River also complained about the river being dirty because of the reclaimers. They felt threatened and they said that the reclaimers are the ones who are breaking into their houses.
A clean up was coordinated by Louis and Jennifer and started on 7 June 2020. They cleaned the river with all the reclaimers who are staying in the areas nearby. Other stakeholders came to help such as the Community Policing Forum (CPF). They even called security workers and some other people who are environmentalists to come and
To our surprise, last week when Louis and Jennifer had a meeting with the councillor, the councillor was xenophobic. The councillor said she did not want to help the reclaimers because the people are from Lesotho. She refused to help provide skips (large waste and recycling containers), so that the cleaning campaign can be managed
easier and the area could be always clean. However, she keeps calling Louis to ask how the progress with the cleaning campaign is going. Even though she didn’t help, ARO, the reclaimers and Jennifer continued without her.
When the ARO truck broke down, the CPF sent their security company to come pick up all the dirt that was collected from the area, and some of the stakeholders came to meet the reclaimers. They congratulated them on the beautiful things they are doing for reclaimers, and to save the environment. The cleaning is now continuing every Sunday.
The reclaimers’ area and the river look better than before they started cleaning, and the residents are now happy about the progress that the reclaimers and ARO are making.
This article was submitted on 19 July 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text.
Please include a link back to the original article.