President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced his decision to extend the deployment of 20 000 South African National Defense Force (SANDF) soldiers until September. The news was broken to Parliament via a letter, and the decision was made to control the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.
As part of the country’s original three-week lockdown, 2 820 SADNF members were deployed across South Africa. These soldiers were deployed at the end of March, and this cost R641 200 290. This was increased to 76 000 soldiers in April, reports Reuters.
The extended deployment will mean that SANDF soldiers will be around until September, and will cost government an additional R1.5-billion.
Many have speculated that the redeployment of SANDF members may indicate the possibility of entering a more strict lockdown. For now, this is unconfirmed.
In a series of tweets on June 30, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize explained there are no set plans for another lockdown. While the National Command Council (NCC) has not made a decision yet, the government may place restrictions in localised areas if there is a need.
The Western Cape is the country’s current coronavirus hotspot, but experts have warned that the Gauteng province may soon overtake the Cape in cases.
On Thursday, July 2 David Makhura, Gauteng’s premier said that a “COVID-19 storm” has made its way into the province and this may call for stricter lockdown rules.
“We are also making presentations to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) at reinstating some of the harsher and more stringent (lockdown) measures. We think there may be a case for harder localised lockdown in areas where the infection rate is getting out of hand and people are not observing the measure being put in place,” Makhura said.
Issues to be discussed include:
– The sale of alcohol – including the hours when it may be sold;
– The return of more school students, with an estimated 1-million expected to return as of 6 July;
– The reopening of churches and other specific sectors.
Picture: Western Cape Government