There should be no evictions during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown: minister

The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, has appealed to municipalities and private property owners to suspend evictions during the current lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown as part of efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“The Minister and senior management of the Department of Human Settlements had a video conference meeting with leaders of community organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations. During the meeting, (the Minister) was informed of ongoing evictions, including in eThekwini Metro,” the Ministry of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation said in a statement on Thursday.

The Minister has appealed for evictions to be halted and instead for the municipalities and private property owners to prioritise measures aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The civil society organisations have committed to work with the ministry.

Among others, they committed to spread education on Covid-19 in their communities, as well as assist with pointing out areas that are still struggling with reliable access to water.

The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation is in the process of providing water and sanitation to informal settlements, public areas including taxi ranks, as well as rural areas.

A total of 20 000 water tanks have already left the depot. Some have been connected to the water infrastructure and are providing much needed water to communities, while others are currently being transported to communities identified as having a need.

Sisulu has called on the municipalities and communities at large to look after their infrastructure and water tanks, which have been put in place to assist them.

She urged people who are installing tanks to take the necessary precautions to minimise their risk of infection.

“While it remains our responsibility as government to provide basic services to our communities, the situation we currently find ourselves in calls for us to do things differently. It is for this reason that we are appealing to borehole drilling companies across the country to extend a helping hand by drilling boreholes for communities who are in desperate need of water.

“We implore our municipalities and private property owners to understand that preferably, the only movement of people that should occur now is through the de-densification initiative, which was recently announced by my department.

“It is aimed at preventing densely populated settlements from being overwhelmed by COVID-19,” Sisulu said.


Read: How the coronavirus lockdown will impact South Africans who rent

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There should be no evictions during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown: minister