A year in a settlement created by Covid

Izwelethu informal settlement or Covid as it is nicknamed started with lockdown in March 2020

By Masixole Feni

29 March 2021

A woman wades through Covid settlement when it flooded in 2020. She has hung clothes on a line above the water to dry.

Izwelethu (Our Land), also known as Covid informal settlement, is a land occupation outside Cape Town with what appear to be hundreds of shacks. It started in March 2020, when South Africa first went into national lockdown.

Community members say they need basic services. The City says it does not have enough funding to support infrastructure for all the numerous new informal settlements that have sprung up in the past year.

Residents smoke a hookah, from a hill overlooking the settlement.

Collecting water is a laborious process for residents in Covid. They collect water every day from a nearby community that has stand pipes.

Residents use the river for laundry. Children used to swim here too. The black wires are illegal live electricity connection.

Because of the pandemic, children go to school for only two or three days a week. Here some enjoy doing backflips on a discarded mattress in an open field to pass the time at home.

People collect water from this storm water pipe. They say it is clean enough for cooking and washing. They have to cross a busy road to access it.

Residents walk beside a river that runs alongside the settlement.

These two young men have jobs, but they don’t earn enough to pay rent, they say. They live here so that they can make ends meet.