South Africa: Abahlali Basemjondolo - You Can't Stop the Virus While Living in the Mud


The inhumane conditions that most South African residents are subjected to in their daily lives will continue to deepen as the coronavirus spreads.

South Africans are encouraged to take precautionary measures to curb the spread of the pandemic by practising social distancing and intensifying hygiene control. The country will also be under a nationwide lockdown in order to "fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission across society" from 26 March for 21 days.

The problem is that the recommended measures in South Africa, similarly to those of the World Health Organisation, assume that everyone lives in a house. A house which is at no risk of being destroyed by the state or private owners of the land upon which it is built: a house with access to water, sanitation and other basic services.

But the reality is that millions of South Africans do not live in a house, but in rudimentary structures in poor conditions. In a statement released this week, Abahlali baseMjondolo, a shack dwellers' movement with members in various provinces across South Africa, articulated this. Abahali's frank assessment of the situation is that "it does not seem possible to prevent this virus from spreading when we still live in...

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