The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will play a support role during the 21-day lockdown, aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, by assisting the police to limit the movement of South Africans in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
During a briefing on Wednesday evening, Defence Force Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said soldiers would be deployed throughout the country to aid South African Police Service officials, who have to enforce regulations in terms of the Act.
Their duties will include foot patrols and support at roadblocks.
The regulations, which were gazetted on Wednesday evening, will restrict the movement of South Africans who are not deemed as those who will provide essential services during the lockdown.
Police Minister Bheki Cele earlier explained that South Africans would be confined to their homes.
“Every person is confined to his or her place of residence, unless strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social grant, or seeking emergency, life-saving, or chronic medical attention,” the gazetted regulations reads.
Essential goods include food and medicines, while essential services include social grants and medical attention.
The new gazetted regulations have also prohibited movement between provinces, districts and metropolitan areas, as well as the sale and movement of alcohol, and gatherings in public areas, buildings, places or premises.
“There is no need to move around,” Cele said.
According to Mapisa-Nqakula, the SANDF will also deploy static guards at quarantine sites, delivery points and mass storage facilities. Soldiers will also be deployed to ports of entry, which will be locked down for travel purposes.
“The national lockdown is definitely not meant to punish citizens by restricting their movements, but is meant to contain and minimise the spread of this virus,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
She said extraordinary decisions have to be taken to address extraordinary circumstances.
“The reality is that here, all of us, it’s not about being spiteful. It’s not about an abuse of excessive power, it’s not about demonstrating how powerful the state is. It’s about protecting one another, protecting ourselves from this virus,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
Soldiers will be deployed on Thursday at midnight.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi added that the 18 border posts which remained open after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster, will be open for the transportation of goods in and out of South Africa. However, all border posts will be closed to people who want to exit or enter the country.
Citizens who contravene the regulations will be guilty of a criminal offence and face a fine, up to six months imprisonment, or both.
No one will be entitled to compensation for any loss or damage arising out any “bona fide action or omission by an enforcement officer” under the regulations.