A group of non-governmental organisations has asked the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, his cabinet and the Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, to stop evictions during this Covid-19 outbreak.
The group, in a joint statement, said, ‘[T]he current business-as-usual response, that is, issuing eviction orders, implementing their execution or removing people from their homes (even without an eviction order by means of an interdict, municipal bye-laws or otherwise), does not consider the communicable nature of Covid-19 and how evictions and displacement will place a greater number of vulnerable people at risk’.
‘It is, therefore, a public health obligation of the South African government to institute an immediate moratorium on all evictions leading to displacement and homelessness and other attempts to remove people from where they live’, the group added. The group stated that if the government does not effect the moratorium, it will show that the government is irresponsible in a time such as this when decisive proactive measures are necessary to protect the lives of the citizens.
The group also noted that people cannot be expected to practise heightened levels of hygiene by washing hands in the recommended manner where the only access to water is a communal standpipe or shared ablution facilities, as is the case in informal settlements and transitional relocation areas.
The organisations that make up the group include the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA, Abahlali baseMjondolo, Land Access Movement of SA, Social Justice Coalition, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Nkuzi Development Association, Equal Education, Probono.org, Lawyers for Human Rights, Legal Resources Centre, Dullah Omar Institute and SECTION27.
Photo source: Lynn Friedman