SANDF troops back in barracks after Covid-19 lockdown deployment

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An SANDF member, with police in the background.
An SANDF member, with police in the background.
Brenton Geach, Gallo Images
  • SANDF members who were deployed from the beginning of Level 5 lockdown have returned to barracks.
  • Initially, 2 820 soldiers were deployed in March to enforce lockdown, with an additional 73 000 deployed later.
  • Their deployment expired on 30 September after their "successful" contribution to curb the spread of Covid-19.

South African soldiers deployed to enforce one of the world's strictest lockdowns to control the spread of coronavirus have returned to barracks as new infections slowed, the SANDF said on Friday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa initially mobilised 2 820 soldiers in late March to help police enforce the confinement measures.

But a month later, he deployed 73 000 extra troops to help implement the nationwide lockdown.

READ | No money to modernise current SANDF equipment, Parliament hears

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on Friday said its deployment had expired on 30 September.

The soldiers had "successfully contributed" to "the national effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19", it said in a statement.

"Deployed forces will be confined to operational bases until further notice, with contingencies to render assistance in the event of a second wave," the SANDF added.

READ HERE | Man arrested for allegedly supplying SANDF members with expired food during lockdown

Some security forces have been accused of heavy-handedness in enforcing South Africa's lockdown rules.

Military medical staff were also dispatched to some state hospitals to help shore up the health service, which was buckling under rising number of cases during the peak in July.

ALSO READ | SANDF warns against members getting involved in ANC affairs

Despite its strict lockdown, South Africa has been relatively hard-hit, with more than 676 000 infections and 16 866 deaths recorded to date - just under half the total number of cases detected on the continent.

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