Anna Majavu and Sapa

Anna Majavu and Sapa

Fifty-nine people in South Africa have died from cholera since November.

This is was said by Health Minister Barbara Hogan in Pretoria yesterday.

She said the disease has claimed 59 lives since November until last Saturday, March 7.

"One death is one too many and we have had 59," Hogan said.

She said 12324 cholera cases had been reported.

But there has been a steady decline and cholera was mostly confined to Mpumalanga and Limpopo, she said.

"We believe that the cholera situation is under control, but it does not mean we are not monitoring it," Hogan said.

Meanwhile, she defended the Home Affairs Department's decision to shut down the Musina showgrounds in Limpopo last Thursday.

About 7000 Zimbabwean asylum seekers had been living at the showgrounds for almost a year.

After the shutdown, hundreds of asylum seekers arrived in central Johannesburg at the weekend and are living on the streets.

Hogan said: "Women and children have been taken to a disused army base in very good shape three kilometres away from the showgrounds where they have been afforded more protection."

But she then conceded that police and the army were still ironing out details about moving the asylum seekers to the base.

Speaking at the same briefing, Water Affairs Minister Lindiwe Hendricks described the situation in Musina as a "humanitarian crisis".

She said: "What we saw at the Musina showgrounds was something we don't want to see. We were looking at moving people to areas where they have proper sanitation."