The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have said its “goodbyes” and “thanks” after its “successful” deployment in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic came to an end on Wednesday, 30 September.
In a statement on Friday, 2 October, SANDF chief general Solly Shoke along with the military command commends its members for their contribution.
“We would like to pay our gratitude and thank all members of the department of defence who responded to the call by the commander-in-chief and President Cyril Ramaphosa, to deploy in the fight against Covid-19.
“This call was heeded by the regular force, reserve force and Public Service Act personnel in the department of defence who worked tirelessly in the midst of the pandemic to safeguard the people and our nation.
The SANDF further said the military command also thanked the members of the public who “volunteered in their hundreds to assist with different tasks during the operation”.
“They have indeed walked the extra mile when called upon to serve our nation and showed their patriotism. This disaster once again proved the necessity for a national defence force that can act as an assurance for our country during war and in peacetime.”
The defence force added that the members who were deployed during the pandemic would be confined at its operational base until further notice as there is a possibility of redeployment in an event of a second Covid-19 wave.
The deployment of the SANDF since the national state of disaster was announced came with a bit of controversy as the defence force was sued for R10 million in August over the death of Colllins Khosa, allegedly at the hands of four soldiers.
The family of Khosa decided to take legal action following a report implicating the four SANDF soldiers. They argued that it is suffering financially and emotionally after Khosa’s death, which occurred at his Alexandra home on 10 April.
According to court papers, the soldiers kicked and punched Khosa, holding his hands behind his back while they choked and beat him, slammed him against the wall, and used the butt of a machine gun to hit him.
Khosa died soon after of blunt force trauma to the head.
The four soldiers were put on leave with full pay, pending the finalisation of the criminal investigation.
This comes after the military ombudsman found that the soldiers’ conduct was improper, irregular and in contravention of the code of conduct, operational order and rules of engagement.
Soldier allegedly shoots man who wasn’t wearing mask
In a separate incident, a SANDF soldier, who allegedly shot a Limpopo man not wearing a mask, was granted R5,000 bail in the Morebeng Magistrate’s Court last month.
Hendry Ngomane, 29, faces a charge of attempted murder after he allegedly shot a 27-year-old man at a shopping complex on Thursday afternoon.
“Members of the national defence force were reportedly on duty monitoring Covid-19 compliance in the area, when they approached a group of people who were not wearing face masks.
“When asked why they were not wearing masks, an argument allegedly ensued and one of the soldiers shot the victim,” National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Limpopo spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi alleged.
The 27-year-old man, who was allegedly shot, was taken to the local hospital for medical attention.
The matter was postponed to 28 October 2020 for further investigations.
Additional reporting from News24 Wire