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Army deployed for three months at a cost to taxpayers of R641m

27 March 2020 - 11:51 By Andisiwe Makinana
Soldiers deployed in Johannesburg as the lockdown came into force at midnight on Thursday.
Soldiers deployed in Johannesburg as the lockdown came into force at midnight on Thursday.
Image: Sunday Times/Alaister Russell

The deployment of the army to ensure the implementation of the Covid-19 lockdown will cost the state just over R641m.

President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed this in a letter to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise in which he informed her that he had “employed” 2,820 defence force members across all nine provinces.

The letter also revealed that the employment of the defence force personnel was for three months - from March 26 to June 26 at an expected cost of R641,200,290.

Ramaphosa announced that from Friday - and for 21 days - the country would be under lockdown in an attempt to “flatten the curve” and reduce the number of Covid-19 infections.

“On March 23 2020, I announced that the national coronavirus command council has decided to enforce a nationwide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight, Thursday March 26 2020.

“The decision by the national coronavirus command council was taken as a measure to save South Africans from infection and to save the lives of thousands of people,” he said.

Section 201 of the constitution requires that when the SANDF is employed in co-operation with the police service, in defence of the republic or in fulfilment of an international obligation, the president should inform parliament - promptly and in appropriate detail - of the reasons, any place they are, the number deployed and for how long.

The health ministry announced SA's first Covid-19 fatalities on Friday.

In a short statement nine hours into the official 21-day lockdown, health minister Zweli Mkhize said two people had died.

“This morning, we wake South Africans up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from Covid-19.

“These two deaths occurred in the Western Cape. One at a private hospital and the other at a public hospital,” Mkhize said in a statement.

The health ministry also announced that by Friday morning, the number of positive coronavirus infections around the country had surpassed 1,000.