This is not the time for 'skop 'n donner', Ramaphosa tells SANDF ahead of lockdown deployment
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has deployed the SA National Defence Force ahead of the national lockdown with a warning that this was not the time for "skop 'n donner".
'Skop 'n donner' loosely means to kick someone.
Ramaphosa, dressed in full SANDF gear, addressed hundreds of soldiers on Thursday night in Soweto who have been tasked with assisting the police to enforce strict regulations which form part of the government's measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The country as of Thursday, has 927 confirmed cases of the virus. Ramaphosa said they expect the numbers to rise over the next few days and weeks.
The lockdown, which is expected to last for 21 days, will see all non-essential businesses shut down and citizens are obliged to stay at home. Only essential services, which include healthcare and grocery stores, will be allowed to operate.
Ramaphosa wished the SANDF members well ahead of their mission and said this was their time to protect the country against the "invisible enemy", the coronavirus.
He admitted that many South Africans would be fearful of seeing the army patrol the streets with their guns, but the deployment was meant to restore trust and confidence.
He said this was not the time for "skop 'n donner" or violence against citizens.
"They will be looking on to you - that you will be looking after them. It is with that I send you to protect our people against the coronavirus. This is not a moment for skop 'n donner, skit and donner. It is a moment to protect our people.
"When they see you with your guns, they will be fearful. But we want them to know that you are there to be supportive of them. This is the most important moment for the country," the president said.
He said the soldiers should approach with caution when encountering hostile individuals who may be violating the lockdown rules.
"You are the restorers of life to our people. Make sure that after 21 days this state will be able to bounce back. Where our people can be active once again. This is a life restoration and mercy mission. A life-giving mission. Go out and save the lives of South Africans. I order you to go out and execute this mission with great success," he said.