Thousands of people from Dunoon will be moved to temporary sites as part of a state plan to reduce overcrowding in informal settlements and fight the spread of Covid-19.
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced at the weekend that the government had found 3 000 hectares of land across the country to relocate people in overcrowded settlements.
“We know that our people have, in the past, resented being moved to different areas. We will, therefore, set up a programme that will target them with messages that for their own health, it’s important that they consider moving to other areas,” she said.
Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers welcomed the announcement that temporary alternative accommodation would be offered to residents from Dunoon and Kosovo.
“Furthermore, we welcome her confirmation that water tanks will be provided to address the shortage of water where required. This will undoubtedly assist in combating the spread of Covid-19, as it ensures social distancing, which is our collective challenge during this unprecedented period. We have to ensure we stop the spread,” he said.
Mr Simmers said his department was evaluating how the relocations would work.
Priority would be given to moving the elderly and disabled as they were most at risk from Covid-19.
Mr Simmers’s spokesman, Marcellino Martin, said they would have normally spent a lot of time discussing the plan with the communities involved before speaking to the media, but these were unique times and the plan was a matter of urgency.
Ward 104 councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said he would be meeting with Province this week to discuss the plan.
He welcomed the decision to relocate people from the area.
“I’m keen to find out their strategy and how this will be tackled. Since the Province says that they will prioritise the elderly and disabled, they should take into consideration that these people live with younger people who often depend on them. So taking an old person out of Dunoon and leaving his/her family behind won’t make sense.”
Dunoon resident Yanga Nkohla hailed Ms Sisulu’s announcement but said the plan would need to consider how people would travel.
“Things like transport, shops, health-care centres must be available in these proposed areas before people get moved. This should not displace people and take them far away from their places of work. If they can sort those things out, I wouldn’t hesitate to move,” he said.
Mr Simmers said the department would start explaining the process to affected communities in the next few days.
“We therefore call on residents to work with us, as this will undoubtedly assist in combating the spread of Covid-19, particularly since it ensures social distancing, which is our collective challenge during this unprecedented period. As we are the custodian of the land where the Dunoon residents will be temporarily relocated to, we will engage the City to assess their involvement in this regard. We will gladly assist the local authority, as we want to ensure we combat Covid-19 as a collective,” he said.
According to Mr Martin, 10 000 residents of Dunoon and Kosovo will be moved and 1 500 “temporary residential units” will be built in Dunoon and 2 000 in Kosovo.
“In terms of those who might refuse to move, we will be engaging affected communities and trust that our residents will work with us, as their health, safety and basic rights are our priority, particularly the elderly and vulnerable,” he said.