Earlier this week, Morakane MosupyoeGauteng MEC for Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment visited informal settlements in northern Gauteng, as part of the provincial government’s sanitiser rollout. The visit also sought to check in with residents about social welfare, and the state of food security in the household. 

The MEC and her team started with the program in Ward 13 of the Marikana informal settlement in HammanskraalMosupyoe went doortodoordistributing 500ml hand sanitiser to each household. She explained to the residents as she was pouring the sanitisers that they need to wash their hands as many times as they can, and that a little of the sanitiser can go a long way.  

Poor sanitation services increase infection risk 

Tsholofelo Xaba, a Marikana resident, said that they appreciated the government’s efforts to help them out with sanitiser, because this Covid-19 prevention measure is expensive and most residents can’t afford to buy itBefore this, we just washed our hands using soap,” Xaba said. 

Mosupyoe emphasised that Marikana is tidy for an informal housing area, and that the residents have “dumping sites, trees are planted – it’s organised.” 

The MEC’s visit continued to Soshanguve Extension 9, Ward 37 – colloquially known as Nkandla. This area is as densely populated as Marikana, with over 6000 shacks in the area. There is no electricity, running water or sanitation such as toilets. Communal chemical toilets, provided by local government, are the only sanitation measures provided for the community. Mosupyoe said that these types of areas are high infection risk zones, because of the lack of running water.  

Beauty Marshiere, who lives in Nkandla with her partner and two children, said that it’s been tough since the lockdown. No work, no grant, no food parcels – we are struggling,” she said. 

An unnamed resident said that they are happy that the government is looking out for the community because abiding by lockdown regulations, such as social distancing, has been difficult to do in an informal settlement. The resident hopes the community will be screened for Covid-19 soon. 

Health-e News also spoke to spaza shop owners, who were happy with the lockdown regulations thus far, saying they’re making more money as “the community have nowhere else to buy so they’re buying from us.” –  Health-e News