South Africa: De-Densification Is Just a Fancy Word for Eviction

South Africa phasing in some amendments to lockdown, while keeping others in place

Are our state authorities using the Covid-19 outbreak as an excuse to justify the forcible eviction of informal settlement residents?

During a press briefing on 24 March 2020, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced that the government planned to "de-densify" 29 heavily populated informal settlements in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. Since then, five specific settlements were identified as priority areas. According to Sisulu, de-densification is necessary to ensure that families living in densely inhabited informal settlements are able to effectively practice physical distancing.

But what does de-densification actually mean? The Social Justice Coalition (SJC)'s Axolile Notywala explained it best when he said that de-densification "is a fancier word for forced eviction".

De-densification, as conceived of by the state, means relocating people away from their existing homes to a different location - usually somewhere less well-located with fewer resources.

As Sisulu said: "We will need to urgently move some of our people for the de-densification to be realised. Land parcels to relocate and decant dense communities have been secured". She added that these relocations were necessary to relocate communities to "healthier and safer homes".

There is no doubt that communities living in informal settlements...

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.