South Africa


Photo essay: A year in a settlement created by Covid

Photo essay: A year in a settlement created by Covid
A woman wades through Covid settlement when it flooded in 2020. She has hung clothes on a line above the water to dry. (Photo: Masixole Feni)

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

First published by GroundUp.

Izwelethu (Our Land), also known as Covid informal settlement, is a land occupation outside Cape Town with what appears 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 the numerous new informal settlements that have sprung up in the past year. DM

Residents smoke a hookah, from a hill overlooking the settlement. (Photo: Masixole Feni)

Collecting water is a laborious process for residents in Covid. They collect water every day from a nearby community that has standpipes. (Photo: Masixole Feni)

Residents use the river for laundry. Children used to swim here too. The black wires are illegal live electricity connection. (Photo: Masixole Feni)

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. Photo: Masixole Feni)

People collect water from this stormwater pipe. They say it is clean enough for cooking and washing. They have to cross a busy road to access it. Photo: Masixole Feni)

Residents walk beside a river that runs alongside the settlement. Photo: Masixole Feni)

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. Photo: Masixole Feni)

A woman hangs laundry outside a home in the Izwelethu informal settlement near Cape Town. Photo: Masixole Feni)


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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