The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance Celebrates 25 years

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) celebrates a milestone of 25 years of existence.

Desmond D’Sa, Coordinator of the environmental justice organization South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), and recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize for Outstanding Environmental Achievement in Africa stated;” At a time when the enormity of the work we have done over the two-and-a-half decades, and continue to do, has become all the more relevant because of the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. Twenty-five years ago, SDCEA brought together a diverse group of citizens from the South Durban Basin; people divided along racial, ideological, and economic lines. But their differences aside, these communities were united in their common suffering from the high levels of toxic pollutants in their neighborhoods. They shared, too, the impact of this pollution on their health, and the resultant high rates of cancer, leukemia, and asthma prevalence in their communities.

When we heard that the former president Nelson Mandela was visiting the Engen refinery on 15 March 1995, we seized the opportunity and quickly mobilized the community under the banner of the Wentworth Development Forum and brought people to meet president Nelson Mandela and his entourage at the gates of the refinery on Tara Road. President Mandela, displaying the humility he was known for, stopped to hear our concerns when he saw us. It was a turning point for us – for the first time, someone in leadership had wanted to genuinely hear about the challenges in our community from us ordinary folk”

25 years later and SDCEA still continues to lobby for a safe and clean environment and for equality for all people.

On Monday, 15 February 2021, at 8h30am, SDCEA is commemorating its 25 years celebration at the Nelson Mandela Rock, at the corner of Austerville and Quality Street. 

It is worth remembering that SDCEA, when it started 25 years ago, was also led by a young fiery Desmond D’Sa who had witnessed the decline of the natural world and felt as impassioned to solve it as many feel about climate change today.

For more information please contact

Cell no: 0839826939


By: Lorraine Richards

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