Lawyers for Human Rights is representing a group of about 200 informal reclaimers in an eviction application that has been set down for hearing in the Pretoria High Court on 2 December 2019.

The informal reclaimers live in modest shelters made out of plastic sheets and cardboard on a small portion of land opposite the Super Sport Park cricket stadium in Lyttleton, Centurion on the banks of the Hennops River. They refer to the land as “Mushroomville” by virtue of the fact that it was an old mushroom farm. They make a humble living by collecting re-usable and/or recyclable materials in and around urban areas in Pretoria on a daily basis and selling them to recycling companies. They travel long distances on foot to collect the materials and use makeshift trolleys to pull their wares back to Mushroomville before sorting and weighing them before sale.

They have lived on Mushroomville for periods ranging from months to more than 10 years, conducting their recycling activities. Now, the private company which bought the land in 2015 (Turnover Trading 191 (Pty) LTD) wants to evict the informal reclaimers so they can build a hotel and conference centre.

The Honourable Acting Judge Stoop issued an order on 14 December 2018 in the Pretoria High Court declaring that the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality has a constitutional and statutory duty to provide the informal reclaimers with alternative land, as they will be rendered homeless by an eviction. The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality has thus made an offer to relocate the informal reclaimers, but the various alternatives they have identified are unsuitable for several reasons. The most pertinent reason being that the informal reclaimers will not be able to continue their recycling activities.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) will argue that based on international law (i.e. the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ratified by South Africa in 2015) and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, the informal reclaimers have a right to earn a living and the municipality has a duty to protect, promote and fulfil this right. The informal reclaimers rely on their recycling activities as a means of survival for themselves and their families.

“In spite of the integral role they play in the recycling industry, informal reclaimers have been forced to deal with heavy stigma, precarious living and working conditions and continuous harassment by law enforcement agencies, said Thandeka Chauke, LHR legal counsellor.  “This is largely due to the lack of adequate laws and policies that protect them and integrate them in the environmental and waste management systems of the various metropolitan cities, including the City of Tshwane. This is not your average eviction application because the Mushroomville bagerezi are not only at risk of losing their homes, but also their very livelihoods.”

Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (“WIEGO”) and Project Zion have been working closely with reclaimer communities in Tshwane, towards a long-term integration plan under City of Tshwane.

For further information, please contact Thandeka Chauke, Legal Counsellor, Land and Housing Programme on 012 320 2943


Louise du Plessis on 012 320 2943, Land and Housing Programme Manager on 012 320 2943.