LOOK: Chatsworth mom with no piped water speaks of her Covid-19 fears

By Nadia Khan Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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Durban - FOR a Welbedacht East mother, the idea of washing one’s hands and maintaining proper hygiene to avoid contracting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) may sound good, but for her that is impossible.

Denelia Naidoo, 30, of Section A, said amid the Covid-19 outbreak she feared for the safety of her husband and their four children, aged 16, 9, 5 and 2.

They live in an informal settlement with more than 100 other families and there is no piped water to their homes.

She said many in the community suffered with diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease and questioned how they too could protect themselves when they did not have access to water or formal homes.

The residents use water from a standpipe or a single communal tap.

She fills water from a communal tap more than 100m away from her home. 
 Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)


Naidoo, who is unemployed, moved into the settlement three years ago.

She said her husband could also not find a job and they could no longer afford the rent in an outbuilding.

“We approached the DA (Democratic Alliance) and they built us this tin-house,” said Naidoo.

“We were told we would get an RDP house in the area after about a year, but we are still waiting.”

She said living in a one bedroom home, without water, was difficult.

Naidoo was able to buy a mask and hand sanitiser. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)


“We are already living in such conditions. There are pit toilets and there is a mosquito and fly infestation. My youngest child is always getting sick because of the poor and unhealthy environment. I am scared as I fear for my children. We already don’t practise proper sanitisation because we don’t have the luxury of having piped water, so how can the president expect us to do so now?”

Naidoo said there was a single standpipe and a communal tap that catered for all of them.

“But this is not enough. Some days we have a trickle of water, which we have to quickly collect so we can use for that day for cooking, drinking, bathing and for the toilet.

“So how are we supposed to spend 20 seconds washing our hands? Everyone needs access to water. It’s not just for those who can afford proper homes.”

Kasturie Pillay, 51, said she worried about her son’s health deteriorating as he was asthmatic.

Pillay shares a two-bedroom tin house with her husband, and sons, aged 24 and 14.

“It is scary knowing that my younger son is one of those at a higher risk of contracting the virus. But how do we ensure he maintains proper hygiene without water?

“Some days there is no water or it comes for about an hour or two. We collect it in bottles but besides drinking, we also have to use it for the toilet, washing clothes and drinking.”

Devaraj Govender, 48, injured his leg after an accident and has to walk about 100 metres from his home to the communal tap.

“There are days when people tamper with the supply pipes and we don’t have water until it is repaired. This is how we have to live.”

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