Community members at the Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban say they are worried about the coronavirus lockdown due to a water shortage in the area. Premier Sihle Zikalala engaged with the community to speak to them around prevention measures around the virus and what the lockdown will mean to their daily movement.

Cato Crest is a densely populated informal settlement, about seven kilometres from the Durban CBD. Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a three-week national lockdown starting from midnight on Thursday.

Authorities say it is important to use water with soap when washing hands for at least 20 seconds, and as often as possible, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now, residents in Cato Crest say it will be impossible to practice social distancing as they live extremely close to each other.

Resident Simphiwe Ngobese says they cannot afford to spare the water they have, for the constant hand washing required to prevent the virus. “Firstly, a lot of people in our area do not understand the use of sanitizer, secondly we don’t have water. We get water at night and in the morning and the rest of the day there’s no water so we have to conserve the water, it has to last us throughout the day for cooking, washing and bathing. So now that we have to keep on washing our hands, that’s what stresses us even more.”

Another resident Nowandile Bhayisi is worried about feeding her family during the lockdown as she still has not received her salary for March and she has not been able to buy groceries.

“We have to be ready for these 21 days so that this thing (coronavirus) that’s here can pass. But it’s not a usual situation because we haven’t been paid our salaries yet we are just sitting here waiting to get our salaries so that we can go and buy food. But what’s really worrying us is if we will be allowed to go to town and buy food.”

In the video below South Africans panic buy despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assurance that they will be able to buy food during the lockdown: 

Meanwhile, learners in the area are concerned about losing out on critical school time. Zuko Ncwane says they will not have access to the internet with the libraries being closed.

“ As the students, we are being left behind on our school works so I think this will affect us too much. For example matric learners they will be affected, they will not have enough time to study for their trial exams and their end of the year exams. For us, as students who are coming from disadvantaged families, we won’t have access to libraries because we are not allowed to go there to have internet access as we don’t have internet access it will be hard for us to learn and do our school work.”

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has reassured residents that water tankers will be available. He also urged them to respect the lockdown directive. “We want to ensure that all communities adhere to the lockdown and this lockdown means you stay at home, it not time to be on holiday up and down, let us respect this directive and it is going to be enforced. We are calling for people to co-operate, we don’t want to reach a stage where we use force but if needs be, force will be applied.”

The Chinese Embassy donated 100 000 masks to the KwaZulu-Natal government to help curb the spread of COVID-19. There is a current shortage of protective masks because of the high demand from healthcare workers and the public.

Zikalala says the donated masks will be distributed to healthcare workers.