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President Cyril Ramaphosa has informed Parliament about the employment of 2 122 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to support other government departments in the fight against COVID-19.

In a letter received by the National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise, and National Council of Provinces Chairperson, Amos Masondo, the President informed Parliament that he has authorised the employment of 2 122 members of the SANDF 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, to prevent crime and enforce restrictions under the adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations.

The deployment will run from 29 December 2020 to 31 January 2021 at a cost of R95 666 944.

The deployment is in terms of Section 201(2) (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and Section 18(1)(a) and Section 19 of the Defence Act, Act 42 of 2002.

The most recent COVID-19 related deployment follows an initial deployment of 2 820 SANDF members on 25 March 2020, 76 000 deployed on 21 April 2020, and 20 000 deployed on 30 June 2020.

The forces join those already deployed on various other missions, including 200 SANDF personnel on maritime patrol mission in the Mozambique Channel (dubbed Operation Copper), the peacekeeping effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo involving 1 165 soldiers forming part of the United Nations Organisation’s Stabilising Mission, and 15 companies (Operation Corona) which serves to safeguard South Africa’s borderline, especially now that 20 ports of entry have been closed to the general public.

In a move to curb the spread of COVID-19, the President announced on 28 December 2020 that Cabinet has decided to put the country on an adjusted level 3 from level 1, with several of the level 3 regulations strengthened to enforce restrictions under the adjusted level 3.

The President’s letter has been published in Parliament’s official papers, the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports.


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