Coronavirus: NGO's plead with Ramaphosa to stop evictions amid global pandemic
Johannesburg - Dozens of non-governmental organisations have pleaded with President Cyril Ramaphosa, his Cabinet and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to follow the international trend and stop evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 31 organisations and movements say it cannot be business as usual during the global pandemic, also known as coronavirus, which has killed thousands of people across the world.
”The 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 by-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,” read their letter to Ramaphosa and Mogoeng, among others.
The organisations argue that people cannot be expected to practice heightened levels of hygiene by washing hands in the recommended manner where the only access to water is a communal standpipe and shared ablution facilities in an informal settlement or in a transitional relocation area.
Their call follows US cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco as well as Spain, among others, temporarily banning evictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The organisations and movements 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.
“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,” they state.
According to the organisations and movements, not effecting the moratorium they demand would be blatantly irresponsible in a time when decisive proactive measures are necessary to protect the health, and lives of all residents, especially the most vulnerable.