South Africa: Article On Mass Removal of People in Informal Settlements Misleading

A police officer adjusts a colleague’s mask (file photo).

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has disputed a Sunday newspaper report which claims she ordered the mass removal of people from informal settlements as a measure to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

The Minister said she has neither done so nor given such an indication.

She is considering her options regarding the article published by Sunday Times newspaper.

"I have been very clear and consistent. I'm working with NGOs that are close to the informal settlements to guide government on what needs to be done about the vulnerability of people in extremely densely populated informal settlements," Sisulu said.

The Minister said she is currently in consultation with the NGOs, and the discussions have not yet been concluded - nor have any plans been taken to the National Coronavirus Command Council.

Sisulu emphasised that the only thing that has been done by her office so far, is to issue an appeal to municipalities and private property owners to suspend evictions, as long as the country continues to work on mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

"The Sunday Times is therefore misrepresenting government's intentions and creating hysteria. My office made it clear to the newspaper that we are treating the process of re-blocking with the sensitivity that it requires and that we did not wish to create unnecessary panic," Sisulu said.

The Minister said she wants the newspaper to withdraw the misleading information suggesting that she has ordered mass removals of people from informal settlements.

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