South Africa

R1.5bn extra as Ramaphosa keeps 20,000 soldiers on the streets

R1.5bn extra as Ramaphosa keeps 20,000 soldiers on the streets

President Cyril Ramaphosa will employ 20,000 soldiers in the fight against Covid-19 until the end of September.

"Expenditure expected to be incurred for this extension is R1.5bn," parliament said in confirming Ramaphosa's decision.

In a statement issued on Thursday night, parliament said Rampahosa had written to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo on June 30 over the decision to extend the employment of the 20,000 SANDF members from June 27 until the end of September.

The deployment is significantly smaller than the 76,000 who were deployed for a 3-month posting in April.

"Their [SANDF] service is in co-operation with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to maintain law and order, to support other state departments and to control South Africa’s border line to combat spread of Covid-19 in all nine provinces," parliament said.

According to the statement, Ramaphosa said the soldiers were "still required to combat the spread of the pandemic".

The defence force was, among other things, helping the national health department in managing Covid-19 at field hospitals and quarantine facilities, and conducting medical screening. It was also assisting the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) "in efforts to maintain or enhance living conditions of the population", and was also supporting SAPS in the enforcement of lockdown conditions.

The extension comes after Ramaphosa initially employed 2,820 soldiers in March, and then increased this to 76,000 solders on April 21.