Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has appealed to municipalities to stop evicting citizens and to also protect water facilities during the 21-day national lockdown.
On Thursday, Sisulu told municipalities and landlords not to evict tenants during the lockdown.
This comes after citizens pleaded with government to help them as they struggled to pay rent and utility bills in parts of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
“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 the Covid-19 coronavirus,” Sisulu said.
She said her department was in the process of providing water and sanitation to informal settlements, public areas – including taxi ranks – and rural areas.
Sisuly said that 20 000 water tanks had already left the depot. Some have been connected to water supply infrastructure and are providing the much-needed resource to communities, while others were currently being transported to needy communities.
She called on the municipalities and communities at large to look after the infrastructure and water tanks that had been put in place to assist them.
“While it remains our responsibility as government to provide basic services to our communities, the situation we find ourselves in calls for us to do things differently. It is for this reason that we are appealing to borehole drilling companies across the country to extend a helping hand by drilling boreholes for communities that are in desperate need of water,” she said.
Additionally, Sisulu promised that her department would collate the cost and quantity of the water taken from irrigation schemes and catchment areas, which would be paid out later.
“We are centrally controlled and all the water in South Africa will be directed by us to where it is needed most. The command centre will be able to see where we have enough water and request those with excess water to provide it to those who do not have it,” she said.