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Ramaphosa praises soldiers for 'essential' Covid deployment

21 February 2021 - 12:37 By TimesLIVE
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the national Armed Forces Day event on Sunday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the national Armed Forces Day event on Sunday.
Image: Screengrab via eNCA

The SA National Defence Force can be relied upon no matter the circumstances, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

Speaking on Armed Forces Day, Ramaphosa, who is the commander-in-chief of the SANDF, described the country's military as being “essential” to SA's fight against the coronavirus.

You have demonstrated that the SA National Defence Force can be relied on in good times as well as in bad times, in times of peace and times of war, in times of stability and prosperity, and in times of national crisis,” he said.

Ramaphosa praised the defence force for, among other things, maintaining law and order during the initial Covid-19 lockdown, for undertaking mercy missions to bring stranded South Africans back home, delivering clean drinking water to vulnerable communities and, in the case of the SA Military Health Service, deploying personnel to all provinces to help in the fight against the deadly virus.

“But what perhaps touched us as the nation most was the sight of SANDF members helping the elderly carry their groceries, walking alongside young people making their way home, and many other instances that showed our armed forces at their best,” he said.

Ramaphosa also described the SANDF as a “disciplined force”.

“We know that the defence force will not accept any actions by its members that violate the laws of our country or the rights of our people. We know that where there are transgressions, it will be against those responsible,” he said.

After paying tribute to the soldiers who had died due to Covid-19, Ramaphosa said: “Men and women of the SANDF, we thank you for the work you have done to protect our country at this most difficult of times, where you spared neither strength nor courage. On this National Armed Forces Day all the people of SA Africa wish you well. We have no doubt that as we begin the immense task of rebuilding and recovery, that we can count on you, as we always have and forever shall.”