Hundreds of people have heeded the joint call from Global Citizen and the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) to help clean up the city on Saturday, to celebrate World Cleanup Day. 

Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba, former footballer Lucas Radebe, and TV star K Naomi joined over 600 Global Citizens to don their gloves and grab their refuse bags to help out.

“We need to preserve this environment for future generations, let us ensure that this youth…inherit a better Johannesburg than the one that you and I inherited,” Mashaba told the gathered crowd on Saturday.

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“Thanks so much for coming out in numbers and doing what you’re doing for our community,” he added. 

Dubbed A Re Sebetseng (meaning “let’s work”), the campaign brought people of all ages together to roll up their sleeves and help to clean up litter all over the city. 

And in doing so, Joburg residents joined the international effort to create a cleaner world and support the UN’s Global Goals.

The goals are a 17-step road map to ending extreme poverty: addressing climate change, life on land, and creating sustainable cities and communities — alongside other goals calling for gender equality, education access, and an end to hunger and malnutrition. 

World Cleanup Day aims to bring millions of people together all over the world, to engage in cleaning activities planned by various global organisations.

Mashaba urged residents to take action to improve the environment, cut plastic use, and embrace a healthy lifestyle. 

“Johannesburg is the country’s fastest-growing Metropolitan area and it is expected to become a megacity — with a population in excess of 10 million people — within the next 15 years,” Mashaba said.

Learn more: Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg on Dec. 2

“In a city of this size, it is essential that residents and the administration work together to maintain the urban environment,” he continued. “That is why we started A Re Sebetseng — to encourage residents to be part of creating the kind of city that everyone would like to live in.”

The campaign will also work to educate Global Citizens about reducing their plastic usage, and encourage recycling.

As part of the cleanup, the City of Joburg provided bags and gloves to those who joined in, which were handed out at City walk-in centres, depots, clinics, and libraries. 

The cleanup was in seven locations, including Soweto, Braamfontein, Sophiatown, and other areas in the city.

Global Citizen’s mission is to build the largest movement of people taking action to end extreme poverty by 2030. 

“Global Citizen is so happy to be bringing Mandela 100 to Johannesburg, working with the city to promote activism within the community,” said Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans. “Efforts like A Re Sebetseng provide opportunities for each of us to take actions which promote a healthy planet and environment, a key part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

And some lucky participants who took part in the cleanup will also be in with a chance of winning tickets to the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, which will be coming to the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Dec. 2. 

If people come and take part in all three cleanups, in September, October, and November, they’ll have the chance to win a VIP ticket. 

The Joburg cleanup coincided with the annual Cleanup and Recycle SA Week, an initiative launched by the local plastics industry, and supported by retailers, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. 

The aim of the week is to “increase an awareness of the social, environmental, and economic benefits of recycling,” according to Douw Steyn, sustainability director of Plastics SA and member of the National Recycling Forum team. 

“During this time, we encourage communities, schools, and businesses to clean up the areas where they work, live, and play by collecting the litter and ensuring that it gets recycled,” he said. 

Each year, around 120,000 volunteers join the cleanup activities, supported by provincial governments, local authorities, environmental campaign groups, schools, and businesses. 

The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 is presented and hosted by The Motsepe Foundation, with major partners House of Mandela, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Nedbank, Vodacom, Coca Cola Africa, Big Concerts, BMGF Goalkeepers, Eldridge Industries, and associate partners HP and Microsoft.


Defend the Planet

A Re Sebetseng: Hundreds of Global Citizens Just Helped Clean Up Litter in Johannesburg

By Thato Mahlangu