Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
23 Mar 2020
6:10 pm

WATCH: SANDF spotted on the streets, as it says it is ‘supporting government’

Citizen Reporter

The army has already begun to execute on plans to support government in the fight against Covid-19.

A truck from the army base on Jan Smuts Avenue, Craighall Park. Photo: Ilda Dalton

While the country awaits President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Monday evening on the next move for the country, sources from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have confirmed that the army has been ordered to prepare for a possible deployment, though the army has said it will be working in more of a supportive role.

The SANDF said in a tweet that people should “remain calm”.

A South African Army Infantry Formation warning order which The Citizen has seen suggests that two sub-units of a battalion will be working in Gauteng. One sub-unit will be posted to each of South Africa’s remaining eight provinces, according to an order dated March 22, signed by Brigadier-General Bayanda Mkula.

The army will give assistance to the police and the forces are encouraged to execute tasks, such as searches and cordons, in concert.

Concerns have been raised that a national “state of emergency” is on the cards following a high-level meeting on Saturday between Treasury, the SA Reserve Bank and the SA Revenue Service on measures to shore up the economy, to protect small businesses and ordinary South Africans amid predictions that there could be a huge spike in Covid-19 infections.

City Press saw a Treasury memorandum titled Economic Response Packages in which Treasury warns the state to do whatever it can to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to the Sunday Times, the SANDF could be deployed to patrol the streets as restrictions are tightened to help stop the virus from spreading.

All leave has been cancelled, and SANDF members have been told to return to their units to start preparing for short-term deployment, after the defence force was placed on standby.

The Sunday Times, however, said that senior military officials told the publication that the SANDF does not have sufficient personnel or equipment if a full lockdown is implemented.

This was disputed by SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini, who told the publication that the SANDF was waiting for the multidisciplinary team leading government’s response to say if there was a need for the defence force to enter.

Some members of the SANDF were spotted on Jan Smuts Avenue in Johannesburg on Monday.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu announced on Sunday that due to the magnitude and complexity of the issues Ramaphosa was dealing with, he would only communicate the outcomes and decisions of government on further measures being taken to combat the spread of Covid-19 on Monday.

On Monday, he confirmed Ramaphosa would update the country in the evening.

Ramaphosa spent most of the weekend in engagements business and political leaders around the national state of disaster.

Speaking at the Union Buildings at noon on Sunday, he thanked political parties and business for their collective involvement in giving their input on the national response against the virus.

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