Toxic Tours

SDCEA is known globally for hosting educational Toxic Tours around the South Durban community. Over the past two decades we have received requests both locally and globally to host individuals and groups from institutions such as universities, as well as NPO’s from, America, Europe, and Germany, to name a few.

Living on the fence-line of highly concentrated heavily polluting chemical and Petro-Chemical industries has made South Durban infamous worldwide, and we regularly receive requests from local universities, students, educators, religious groups, the media, and others to carry out tours to showcase the environmental injustice that plagues our community. Since July 2022 to July 2023, SDCEA conducted 20 Toxic Tours of South Durban with various local and international groups, providing a first-hand account and real-life experience of the environment in which the people of South Durban live.

The tour brings an understanding of the pain and suffering that people residing adjacent to these industries have to endure because of the ‘I don’t care’ attitude of big businesses – and the out of sight, out of mind mentality of many of our neighbouring citizens – allows these industries to continue to prioritize profit over people. The tour is a stark reminder that environmental racism continues to flourish long after the advent of democracy in 1994, with poor people and people of colour continuing to bear the brunt of this injustice.

SDCEA has received letters of thanks from many who have been on the Toxic Tours, making it clear that South Durban’s multiple challenges leave indelible impressions on the minds of our visitors, many of whom stay in regular contact with SDCEA through our social media platforms.

Toxic Tour Narrative Background of South Durban

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) has been embarking on advocating for environmental justice in and around South Durban and working in juxtaposition with other environmental NGO’s/CBOs in other provinces around the country where they experience the similar challenges hence our South African constitution (SA’s Bill of Rights, Section 24a) guarantee us as citizens.

  • For the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing; etc.

The South Durban Basin is comprised of six major industrial belts:

  • The Valley Industrial (Engen; Mondi and Sapref),
  • The Jacobs Industrial Belt,
  • The Navy/Mobeni Industrial Belt,
  • The Island View Industrial Belt,
  • The Umbongintwini and the Prospecton Industrial Belt.

The Toxic Tour covers a whole range of historical accidents and incidents in Durban, and it will be primarily focusing on educating the youth and communities in different areas about the chemicals that are emitted in the process of refining petrol; diesel and paper, hence we experience these stressful weather changes that directly impact mostly on disadvantaged communities. To some of the people this will bring very emotional experiences because they have lost their close family members due to these unbearable devastations.

The Toxic Tour is around the South Durban hot spots precisely Merebank; Wentworth; Bluff; Clairwood; Isipingo; Umlazi and the Jacobs area since it was seen to be a precedence area due to it being a major industrialized area where there are more than 180 smokestacks from industries around South Durban and the same smokestacks release tons of hazardous chemicals that contribute enormously to greenhouse gases. The tour takes three to four hours maximum; the first stop is at the cuttings view point where we get to see where the 80% crude oil that is imported to the country and where is it pumped through, our second stop is at one of the primary schools in South Durban where there was two health studies conducted from 2002-2004 and 2004-2006 comparing South and the North of Durban and it found that 52% are Asthmatic from the South and 2% from the North, also looking at the different refineries and storage facilities and their historical back ground.

There is a lot that needs to be done to improve the quality of the air we inhale in Durban; we hope our South African government will adhere to the outcry of civil society and make sure that they interact with different NGO’s/CBO’s and interested and affected parties on their proficiency to fight global warming.


Air Quality analysis results in South Durban areas, focus was on Benzene chemical as it is carcinogenic. It has significant health risks, and many communities are exposed to Benzene emanating from industrial pollution.