Human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu has asked municipalities to halt the eviction of citizens during the 21-day national lockdown.
In a statement on Thursday, Sisulu appealed to both municipalities and private property owners to stop evictions.
SA is on day seven of the 21-day lockdown, which was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday last week in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19, the respiratory infection caused by the coronavirus.
As part of the lockdown, South Africans are encouraged to stay indoors, practise social distancing and to wash their hands regularly.
Some municipalities and provincial governments have been making plans to house homeless people as part of the measures to minimise the spread of the virus.
In her statement, Sisulu said she was informed of ongoing evictions, including in the Durban-based eThekwini metro, during a meeting with community and non-governmental organisations.
“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 coronavirus 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 statement reads.
This comes as provinces, including Gauteng, have resolved to house willing homeless people.
“The department is in the process of providing water and sanitation to informal settlements, public areas including taxi ranks, as well as rural areas. Twenty-thousand 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 being transported to communities identified as having a need,” reads the statement.
Sisulu said the situation SA found itself in called for things to be done differently.
“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,” said Sisulu.