President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament that the deployment of around 2,000 troops to help police enforce adjusted Level 3 regulations of the Covid-19 lockdown will cost R95 million.
In a letter, Ramaphosa informed National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson Amos Masondo about the deployment of 2,122 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
“I have authorised the employment of 2 122 members for service in order to preserve life, health or property in emergency or humanitarian relief operations in support of other government departments and in cooperation with the South African Police Service in the prevention of crime and maintenance of law and order in the Republic of SA under adjusted Level 3 regulations,” he said.
The deployment started on 29 December 2020 and it is expected to run until 31 January 2021.
Police Minister Bheki Cele confirmed that soldiers were roped in to assist the police to keep bathers away from Garden Route beaches.
Cyril Xaba, co-chairperson of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence, said: “These deployments have contributed greatly to the fight against Covid-19 and the preservation of life.”
He also said the forces joined those who had already been deployed on missions, such as the maritime patrol mission in the Mozambique Channel, peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is part of the United Nations Organisation’s Stabilising Mission, and 15 companies safeguarding the country’s border amid the closure of 20 land ports.
In December, after South Africa breached the one million mark of confirmed positive Covid-19 cases, Ramaphosa announced that the country would move to the adjusted Level 3 lockdown.
Several existing regulations were tightened. In terms of the regulations, all indoor and outdoor gatherings were prohibited, except for funerals and other limited exceptions, such as eating at restaurants, or attending museums, gyms and casinos.
However, he announced that funerals could be attended by more than 50 people but that social distancing measures should be implemented.
The nationwide curfew was also extended from 21:00 to 06:00 and the president announced that non-essential establishments, including shops, restaurants, bars and all cultural venues, should close at 20:00.
In April 2020, Ramaphosa authorised the deployment of 73,180 soldiers to help police to enforce lockdown regulations.
The troops were on the ground until 26 June 2020, adding to the 2,280 who were already deployed.
Close to R5 billion was spent on the deployment because it consisted of regular, reserve and auxiliary forces.