President Cyril Ramaphosa has formally informed Parliament of the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to all nine provinces during the 21-day national lockdown.
Rafts of government regulations, from the shutdown of all flights, to a ban on alcohol sales has been published to mitigate against the spread of the virus.
On Friday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced South Africa’s first two deaths as a result of Covid-19. He also confirmed that the number of people that had tested positive had passed the 1 000 mark.
With the three-month deployment of the military, indications are likely that the lockdown may be extended beyond 21 days.
In a letter dated March 25, Ramaphosa informed speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, that the SANDF has been given orders to be deployed from March 26 to June 26.
“To have authorised the employment of 2 820 members of the South African National Defence Force for a service in cooperation with the South African Police Service in order to maintain law and order, support the state departments and to control our border line to combat the spread of Covid-19,” Ramaphosa’s letter read.
Ramaphosa said the military operation would cost more than R641-million.
The president’s decision to place the country under lockdown, despite the economic cost, has been widely welcomed by South Africans, business, and opposition party leaders.
“The decision by the National Coronavirus Command Council was taken as a measure to save South Africans from infection and save the lives of thousands of people,” Ramaphosa told Modise.