Top SA National Defence Force (SANDF) brass, including the Chief and Chaplain General, today (Wednesday 8 April) called on soldiers deployed in support of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
No mention is made in the official SANDF statement on the visit about actual numbers apart from “an entourage” and “various senior military commanders”. As the military is deemed a component of what government terms “essential services” during the national state of disaster lockdown the presumption is social distancing and numbers of people present will be in line with set regulations.
Headed by General Solly Shoke and Reverend Monwabisi Andrew Jamangile, the first port of call for the high level SANDF group was to a number of roadblocks around Pretoria where soldiers are deployed in support of law enforcement agencies. These would, in all likelihood, be the SA Police Service, national and metro (Tshwane) traffic police. This was scheduled to be followed by a morning parade and prayer session at Reserve Force unit Tshwane Regiment behind SA Army headquarters on the western side of the Pretoria CBD.
The aim of the visit, according to the statement, “is to engage with soldiers with the intent to boost morale and strengthen their steadfastness in supporting government efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus and to ensure citizens are and feel safe during the Covid-19 pandemic”.
A day earlier Jamangile visited Joint Tactical Headquarters at Doornkop, south of Johannesburg. Talking to 21 SA Infantry Battalion soldiers, Jamangile reminded them they are not under police command but are deployed in support of the police.
After the parade, the Chaplain General and his entourage visited roadblocks in the vicinity, thanking soldiers and police for their sacrifices in keeping the nation safe.