Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has appealed to municipalities throughout the country to refrain from abruptly cutting water supply to residents.
This she said, deprives residents of their basic human right of access to clean water.
The Minister's appeal comes after the department received thousands of frantic callers complaining about municipalities who have cut off water supply to residents who are in arrears. In some cases, water has been cut for no apparent reason.
Most of the complaints received from the department's call centres stem from the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
"I appeal to municipalities who are guilty of this practice to switch on the water supply immediately. This is not the time to be punishing our people for failing to pay their water bills. We must all rally around the government's call to wash our hands frequently in order for us to defeat the scourge of Coronavirus (COVID-19)," said the Minister at the weekend.
Government has embarked on a national drive to encourage all South Africans to wash their hands with soap and water regularly to stem the tide of COVID-19.
The Minister said the cutting of water supply hampers the government's efforts to fight the spread of the virus.
Sisulu said the department is currently rolling out the distribution of Jojo tanks to all needy communities throughout South Africa, to enable them to adhere to the practice of regular hand washing.
"The maintenance of hygiene standards by everyone is key to containing and eventually defeating the pandemic," she said.
The Minister also appealed to citizens who are still waiting to receive water tanks in their areas, to be patient, as government continues with the rollout.