Soldiers not only manning roadblocks and patrolling during lockdown


What the various disciplines and taskings in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) are doing in contributing to mitigating the impact of the coronavirus was outlined for the first time during a Cabinet security cluster briefing this week.

South Africans heard how its soldiers are helping in addition to patrolling streets and manning roadblocks. Heading the list of tasks, according to SANews, is healthcare and engineering followed by “lockdown enforcement elements”.

“Healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, pharmacists and other medical disciplines are providing healthcare services to SANDF members. Additionally they support the national Department of Health.  Volunteers and Reserve Force members with the requisite skills are also supporting the national Department of Health.

“Scanning teams accompany SANDF units in all provinces. They do thermal scans during patrols at vehicle control points and roadblocks. These assist with early detection of COVID-19 infection and mitigate spread of the virus.

“Primary healthcare teams are deployed nationally to support the national mass screening and testing initiative. These teams are in urban and rural areas as well as areas where there is little or no infrastructure.

“Mass quarantine sites in military facilities have been identified. There are 2 481 beds in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Western Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo to date.

“Decontamination teams are on standby in Pretoria to conduct industrial scale decontamination and will be deployed if the need arises.

“SA Army Engineers are deployed and operational in Thabazimbi (Limpopo), Hartswater (Northern Cape), Vrede (Free State), Legonyane and Fafung (North West) and Nkodide (KwaZulu-Natal). Water purification and distribution are their major tasks.

“Four more Sapper teams are in rural areas of Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal building bridges to assist in accessing services. A bridge in Eastern Cape is completed and work on another is underway at Fini in Queenstown.

“Inspection and oversight visits have been to AFB Hoedspruit where SAAF military skills volunteers are undergoing training; the SA Army Infantry School in Oudtshoorn; SA Navy fleet headquarters in Simon’s Town at SA Navy and the Military Academy at Saldanha. Visits to other facilities in Gauteng and elsewhere to establish the state of readiness are planned,” according to the government news agency.

“The force levels will escalate in accordance with the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases within the force level availability of 73 000,” said Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.