Centurion waste pickers hope for solution

Do you meticulously sort your domestic waste and separate the recycling? Many municipalities now make it easy for householders to be environmentally responsible by conducting curb-side recycling collection and providing waste sacks. But much recyclable refuse still makes its way into general rubbish destined for landfill. An army of waste pickers, operating in the shadows of society, make their living sorting through household waste to recover recyclables, saving municipalities millions of rands in landfill space in the process. Yet, as this article from the Pretoria News shows, Centurion waste pickers struggle to find suitable places to live and work.

Pretoria – The group of waste pickers who are illegally occupying private land on West Avenue in Centurion, opposite the SuperSport Park cricket stadium, hope to reach an agreement with the City of Tshwane today about their future.

The group was back in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, yesterday in a bid to find a solution while facing eviction from the private land which belongs to Turnover Trading 191 Proprietary Ltd.

The business is developing the land, and the group of about 200 waste pickers first have to be allocated emergency temporary housing by the City before they may be removed.

The City has proposed alternative land as a temporary measure, but the problem is that the waste pickers must be able to continue with their trade, as it’s their only source of income.

They operate exclusively in the area in Centurion around SuperSport Park, thus they have to stay in the area.

The City, among others, earlier offered the Lyttelton Town Hall as emergency alternative accommodation, but made it clear that their waste pickings were not welcome.

Although the homeless rejected this offer, several have been residing there following the flooding in the Centurion area last month. Most of them had, however, moved back.

One of the offers by the City – for the waste pickers to temporarily move to council land in Sunderland Ridge – was discussed with the group yesterday.

Lawyers for Human Rights, which is assisting them in their legal bid, made it clear that the City also had to make provision for the waste pickers and their goods. In this regard the City offered to make land available across from SuperSport Park, where they would set up containers with locks or erect a fenced-in space, where the waste pickers may sort and store their goods, while they stayed on the land in Sunderland Ridge.

But one of the problems in this regard is that the property in Sunderland Ridge is 18km from the place the City offered them to store their goods.

The waste pickers accept the fact that they must move from the private land in Centurion, also known as Mushroomville. But as their livelihood depends on waste picking, they need a secure facility for their waste close to where they would stay.

Although the City earlier said it had exhausted all options for temporary emergency accommodation in the vicinity where the waste pickers are at present, it is understood that the parties yesterday viewed other possible suitable land around Centurion.

The idea is to move the waste pickers to alternative land for about three months and register those who qualify on the City’s housing programme.

The parties will today present the proposed way forward to Judge Neil Tuchten.

Reprinted from the Pretoria News 2020-01-21

Eviction lawyers who care

SD Law is a firm of eviction lawyers in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban with a track record of defending unlawful occupiers and their constitutional right to adequate housing, much like these waste pickers. Contact Simon at Cape Town Eviction Lawyer on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za to discuss your case in confidence.

Further reading:

SD Law acts for successful Heathfield eviction

Marikana settlement – landmark judgement appealed

Red Ants continue to disregard due process of law

Inhumane evictions – balancing competing interests

All emphasis/links provided by SD Law.


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