Members of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) patrol the streets of Alexandra, Johannesburg, 27 March 2020, on the first day of the national 21 day shut down. They were there in an attempt enforce quarantine laws that came into effect yesterday. Residents came out in their numbers to see the spectacle. Picture: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The latest deployment of soldiers in SA streets for about a month under level 3 of the lockdown regulations will cost the country nearly R100m, the parliamentary standing committee on defence said on Tuesday.

It made the revelation after receiving a letter from President Cyril Ramaphosa dated January 8.

“The letter informs parliament that the deployment will run from December 29 2020 to January 31 2021, at a cost of R95,666,944,” said co-chairperson of the joint standing committee Cyril Xaba.

“It is intended to preserve life, health and property in emergency or humanitarian relief operations in support of other government departments and in co-operation with the SA Police Service, to prevent crime and enforce restrictions under the adjusted level 3 lockdown regulations.”

The president is compelled to inform parliament of any deployment of the SANDF.

The letter revealed that 2,122 members have been deployed from December 29 to January 31 in support of other government departments in the fight against Covid-19.

This latest Covid-19-related deployment follows an initial deployment of 2,820 SANDF members on March 25, 76,000 on April 21 and the deployment of 20,000 members on June 30.

“These deployments have contributed greatly to the fight against Covid-19 and the preservation of life,” said Xaba.

The portfolio committee said the deployed members join those already deployed on various other missions, namely:

  • 200 SANDF personnel on a maritime patrol mission in the Mozambique Channel (dubbed Operation Copper);
  • the peacekeeping effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo involving 1,165 soldiers forming part of the UN stabilizing mission; and
  • 15 companies (Operation Corona) safeguarding SA’s borders, especially now that 20 ports of entry have been closed to the public.

The committee was expected to discuss the letter at its next meeting.