Ramaphosa informs Parliament of massive military deployment

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The Oryx helicopter lands during a visit by representatives of the SANDF to see if they are able to help with the rescue of a child that fell down this mineshaft near Witfield in Ekurhuleni, 2 March 2017. Photo: Neil McCartney
President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly informed Parliament that he is deploying the military on a vastly expanded scale until June 26 as part of the country’s response to the Covid-19 health crisis.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen on Tuesday evening posted a letter from the president to the chairperson of Parliament’s joint standing committee on defence in which he confirms that he has decided to deploy an additional 73,180 members of the South African National Defence Force throughout the country.

The revised cost for the military deployment during the crisis, the president said, will be R4.590 billion.

It includes members of the regular force, the reserve force and the auxiliary force, the president said in the letter.

Ramaphosa in March deployed 2,800 soldiers until the end of June to help the police enforce a national lockdown. The cost of that deployment was at that point set down at R641 million.

The lockdown has been scheduled to continue until the end of April, but Ramaphosa on Tuesday evening in a televised address said the government would adopt a phased approach to easing restrictions.

He was announcing a R500 billion package of economic and social relief, as well as increased health system funding, to see the country through the coronavirus crisis.

Ramaphosa cautioned that abruptly lifting restrictions would result in an overwhelming increase in infections, which at the moment stand at 3,465 confirmed cases.

Other opposition MPs told ANA that they were aware of the extended military deployment.

Neither the presidency nor the SANDF responded to requests for comment.

African News Agency (ANA)