[PRESS STATEMENT] Court orders Joburg municipality to house reclaimers where they will be able to continue to make a living (6 October 2022).
On 4 October 2022, the Johannesburg High Court ordered the Johannesburg Municipality to provide Portia Mofokeng and other reclaimers with temporary accommodation that will allow them to continue with their reclaiming activities.
SERI represents 107 informal reclaimers in their opposition to an eviction from an underdeveloped property in Midrand. To the reclaimers this land is both a home and a place where they can make a decent living through collecting, sorting and selling recyclable waste. In opposing the eviction, the reclaimers relied on their right not to be evicted into homelessness and to lose their livelihood, stating that the court cannot grant an order which will deprive them of the enjoyment of these constitutional rights.
Judge Wright found that relocating the reclaimers to a place where they cannot earn a basic living as they presently do, would leave them at a risk of not being able to maintain their dignity and care for their children.
Judge Wright held that while all the parties’ rights are important, it would be unfair and therefore unconstitutional to uphold the other parties’ rights while the reclaimers go hungry. Furthermore, the rights of children are paramount in cases involving children such as the present one.
The City of Johannesburg was ordered to provide the reclaimers with land where they can live, and lawfully and safely collect and sort their reclaimed waste.
Khululiwe Bhengu, SERI attorney, who acted for the reclaimers said: “This is a welcome vindication of the reclaimers’ constitutional rights, which are indivisible. Reclaimers should not have to choose between having a roof over their heads and bread on their tables. Reclaimers are often victimised and harassed from their homes and areas of work, despite playing an essential role in minimising waste and helping to combat climate change.”
- Read more about the case here.
- Khululiwe Bhengu, SERI attorney:
- Muano Nemavhidi, SERI candidate attorney:
Download the full statement here.