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 lock down as part of efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Minister Sisulu 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, she was informed of ongoing evictions, including in the Ethekwini Metro. The minister has appealed for the practice 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 committed to work with the ministry. Among others, they committed to spread the education on COVID-19 in their communities, as well as assisting with pointing out areas that are still struggling with reliable access to water.
The department is in the process of providing water and sanitation to informal settlements, public areas including taxi ranks, as well as rural areas. 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.
Minister Sisulu also 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 with water. She further appealed to people who are installing tanks to take the necessary precautions to minimize the 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 their helping hand by drilling boreholes for communities who are in desperate need of water", said Minister Sisulu.
"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 that was recently announced by my department, which is aimed at preventing densely populated settlements from being overwhelmed by COVID-19. We are doing this in the best interest of our people, and it will be in their best interest to work with us", Sisulu added.