African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO) and SERI mourn the passing of Steven Leeu (07 January 1982- 4 February 2023).
Steven was a student at Vista University when he was forced to drop out when his family was no longer able to afford his fees. He then began making a living through reclaiming, more commonly known as waste picking. In 2017, when efforts to organise reclaimers in Johannesburg began, Steven quickly arose to advocate for the integration of reclaimers in the City's waste management system. He was a dynamic organiser and negotiator for ARO and participated extensively in stakeholder consultations for the development of the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Fisheries’ Waste Picker Integration Guidelines for municipalities. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Steven played a huge role in distributing food parcels to reclaimers through a joint project by ARO, Gift of the Givers and the City of Johannesburg.
Steven's passing is a devastating loss to his family and friends and the movement of reclaimers in South Africa.