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South Africa in times of the #coronavirus: Evictions continue in #Durban

Durban. South Africa. March 29, 2020. The national government made a clear promise that there would be no evictions during the national shutdown implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However today, at around 12:30, Calvin Security returned to the Ekuphumeleleni settlement in Mariannhill, which falls under the eThekwini Municipality, and demolished 5 houses. This the second eviction aimed at our movement during the national shutdown and it is a direct violation of a promise made by national government, and a direct attack on the most vulnerable people in this time of crisis.

Submitted to Enough 14.

At the same time the government is starting the roll out of jojo tanks to provide water to settlements that do not have water. Twenty-three settlements have been promised water tanks and today tanks were installed in four of these settlements. We have been struggling for access to clean and safe water for all since 2005 and we welcome the provision of water to these settlements. We are also pleased that in Vusimuzi in Tembisa the tap that was broken has been fixed.

However, while the national government has been engaging with us during this crisis the eThekwini Municipality has not been doing the same. As a result of the lack of engagement some tanks have been placed right next to rotting piles of uncollected rubbish. Because there has been no communication people don’t know if this water is safe to drink, or if it is only for washing hands.

Our members are extremely worried about the future. We cannot self-isolate when many people share one single room shack, when there are long queues to collect water or to use ablution bocks – or no water or ablution facilities at all, and when people have lost all their income and have already run out of food. People are also deeply concerned about how plans to ‘de-densify’ or ‘decant’ large settlements will be implemented.

It is vitally important that all levels of government engage us, and all residents of shack settlements across the country, in this time of crisis. We remain committed to working with all social forces, including the government, in the interests of the collective health and safety of everyone who lives in South Africa. We appreciate the lines of communication that have been opened by the national government but are deeply concerned about the conduct of the eThekwini Municipality.

We continue to organise in this time of crisis, using cell phone apps instead of face to face meetings, and we remain in contact with our lawyers. Any attempt at forced evictions will be resisted. We have attached a letter sent by our lawyers, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Seri) to the eThekwini Municipality.

We urge all levels of government to engage us in a respectful and democratic manner as we work together to find a way through this crisis.

Abahlali baseMjondolo, March 29, 2020.

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