Military training not affected by coronavirus – deputy defence minister


Military training programmes in the national defence force are not affected by the coronavirus pandemic and continue “as usual,” according to Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla.

He is reported by News24 as saying when the lockdown component of the national state of disaster was implemented, 112 days ago today (16 July), it was decided SA National Defence Force (SANDF) training programmes would continue.

“The view of the military command was because of their nature, military training centres are in isolated communities and we would allow programmes to continue,” the digital news platform reports Makwetla saying during a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster briefing on Wednesday. He added the potential impact of COVID-19 was regularly monitored.

Pretoria and the surrounding Tshwane metro is home to, among others, the Defence College and the colleges of three services – the SA Air Force (SAAF), SA Army and SA Military Health Service (SAMHS). It also houses the War College and the SA Army’s peace mission training centre. Other SANDF training areas and centres are in Free State (De Brug), Northern Cape (Lohathla) and Western Cape (Saldanha and Simon’s Town). Training is also done on site at unit bases across the country, with some in or near cities and towns including Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Potchefstroom, Louis Trichardt, Ladysmith, Heidelberg and Soweto.

Soldiers and other SANDF personnel reportedly raised concerns with the online news platform about courses, including ones for promotion. “People from different provinces share rooms. If one is infected the whole class gets quarantined,” News24 was reportedly told by an “insider”.

The deputy minister is reported as informing the JCPS briefing precautionary measures were in place for instructors and people who moved in and out of the areas including those responsible for logistics and supplies.

“What we said is there must be strict protocols to monitor observance of all measures intended to combat infections”.