South African Defense Forces patrol downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: AP Photo/Jerome Delay
South African Defense Forces patrol downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: AP Photo/Jerome Delay

Army receives face masks and goggles ahead of lockdown deployment

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Mar 27, 2020

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Cape Town - The army has received thousands of face masks and goggles from China after it was deployed to the streets on Friday. The Department of Defence said this would help the army in conducting its work.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a letter to Speaker Thandi Modise 2 820 soldiers would be deployed for upto three months. This was as part of government efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

South Africa has more than 1 000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday. On Friday, the country entered Day 1 of the 21-day lockdown. 

In a statement, the Department of Defence said it received 2 000 goggles and 30 000 face masks from China on Thursday. 

The Chief of the SANDF General Solly Shoke, received a consignment of 2 000 protective eye goggles and 30 000 face and nose masks for utilisation by the various members of the SANDF directly involved in supporting government efforts during the state proclaimed 21 days lock down of the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The masks and protective eye goggles will be distributed according to prioritised requirement,” said the department.

The deployment of the army comes at a time that the government was trying to contain the spread of the virus.

There have been over 1 000 people infected in South Africa, a few weeks after the first case was reported in Hilton, Pietermaritzburg.  The patient has since recovered and was discharged in hospital with his wife.

The government has said it wants to contain the disease before it spreads to densely populated areas.

Ramaphosa has called for the police and the army to be respectful, understanding and supportive of the people in the streets. He said the lockdown was not a time for 'skop 'n donner', but a time for the army and the police to restore life for South Africans.

“You are required to do so in the most respectful, understanding and supportive way. The people of South Africa will be looking upon you as defenders of our nation, you will need to restore trust and confidence.

“Many of our people are fearful and doubtful, they are concerned about the virus and the loneliness as we confine them to their homes. They are concerned about boredom, they will be looking upon you that everything will be alright,” said Ramaphosa on Thursday. 

Political Bureau 

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