A soldier hands out informational pamphlets in Alexandra township in Johannesburg. Picture: ALON SKUY
A soldier hands out informational pamphlets in Alexandra township in Johannesburg. Picture: ALON SKUY

As the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies, President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is seeking to increase the number of soldiers on SA streets more than twenty five-fold.

The president, who is the commander in chief of the armed forces, has written to parliament's joint standing committee of defence that he was ordering the deployment of an extra 73,000 members of the SA National Defence force (SANDF) to join the 28,20 soldiers already in the streets to help enforce the lockdown.

SA is in the fourth of a five week national lockdown ordered by the government  in its bid to curb the spread of the virus, which has infected 3465 and killed about 60.

The soldiers are deployed in terms of the constitution to support the SA Police Service in enforcing the nationwide lockdown.

The letter addressed to Cyril Xaba, co-chairperson of the joint standing committee of defence, was shared by DA leader John Steenhuisen on the social media platform Twitter.

Mamagase Nchabeleng, Xaba’s co-chair of the joint standing committee, on Tuesday evening confirmed the validity of the letter, which was set to be discussed by the committee in a virtual meeting on Wednesday. He said the letter was sent on Tuesday.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, who is a member of the committee, also confirmed that he had received the letter from Xaba.

In the letter Ramaphosa wrote that he has decided to employ “an additional 73,180 members of the SANDF, consisting of the regular force, reserve force and auxiliary force.”

He says the deployment would be from April 2 to June 26 2020.

He added that the revised  expenditure which was to be incurred by the deployment of members of the SANDF amounted to R4.5bn.

In a media advisory sent out by the committee on Tuesday, it said it would on Wednesday consider the letter from the president on the deployment of the SANDF.

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