Environmental justice principles are widespread at national and global levels of transition discourse, but this is sometimes irrelevant to marginalized communities. To address this issue, we apply environmental justice theory to a participatory postcolonial urban case study where poverty, unemployment and inequality continue to incentivize unregulated exploitation of vulnerable environments and people. It is unclear how national legislation can provide for indiscriminate access to environments that promote wellbeing in complex postcolonial communities, where xenophobic and economic discrimination reproduces colonial-style inequalities. To resist this injustice, the combination of academic and ordinary expressions of critique that confront regressive praxis and orthodoxies becomes a valuable and constructive political innovation for transitions. Empirical results suggest that enfranchising the most vulnerable proponents of transformation could advance their political capital to advocate for themselves, formulate and enculturate decolonized visions of urban sustainability, demand governmental and commercial accountability and foster urban reform that is relevant to them.