South Africa is officially under lockdown as part of the government’s sweeping measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
The national lockdown began at midnight and will last until midnight on April 16.
South Africa is the epicenter of the outbreak in Africa with 927 cases.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says she believes that the 21-day national lockdown will yield positive results in slowing the spread of the virus.
She was speaking to the media after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) at the Doornkop military base in Soweto, Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Mapisa-Nqakula says there are currently no plans to extend the lockdown.
“We haven’t had that kind of discussion, in fact, whatever decision will be taken at whatever point if there’s a change it would have to be informed by an assessment of health workers and the Minister of Health. We believe for now the three weeks, which the President has asked us to lockdown that it will yield necessary positive results. If it doesn’t then that’s another matter. At that point the National Command Council will discuss and then make a decision,” she explains.
Ramaphosa officially deploys army
President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the army to exercise restrain and carry out its duties with humility during the national shutdown.
“This is not a moment for skop and donner. This is not a moment for skiet and donner. This is a moment to be supportive to our people. I, therefore, order you to go out and execute this mission with great success. Thank you very much,” Ramaphosa told SANDF members in his capacity as Commander-In-Chief at the Doornkop Army Base in Soweto on Thursday night.
The 21-day lockdown will restrict South Africans to their homes until April 16. Only essential service workers will be allowed to go to their places of work while others will only be able to go out to shop for essential items, access health services and in emergency situations.