South African President extends troop deployment to help enforce COVID-19 lockdown

CAPE TOWN (XINHUA) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided to extend troop deployment across the country to help enforce COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the Parliament said on Thursday.

Speaker of the National Assembly (the Lower House) Thandi Modise and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (the Upper House) Amos Masondo have received correspondence from Ramaphosa about that decision, Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

The President ordered a three-month troop deployment in late March when he announced a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Mothapo said the deployment of 20,000 members from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be extended to September 30, and they are tasked to cooperate with the police to maintain law and order, support other state departments, and control the border to combat the spread of COVID-19 in all nine provinces.

In his correspondence to Parliament, Ramaphosa said as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to spread across the country, these SANDF members’ service is still required, according to Mothapo.

South Africa has recorded a total of 168,061 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,844 deaths as of Thursday, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. The country has registered the highest single-day surge in the past 24 hours with 8,728 new cases.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. PHOTO: XINHUA