SANDF instructed to be 'battle ready' for coronavirus

While the final command will come from the president, a classified memo doing the rounds show the military have been ordered to prepare to help combat Covid-19.

SANDF soldiers on patrol in Hanover Park. The military has released their soldiers to help stabilise gang hot-spots, while law enforcement agencies conducted raids in the area. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Sources in the South African National Defence force (SANDF) on Monday confirmed to Eyewitness News that the army was ordered to prepare for a possible deployment to assist in efforts to mitigate spread of the coronavirus.

In a classified memo that has been widely circulated, members are instructed to prepare to provide support to various government departments. The SANDF said on Monday it would only comment after the president's address.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to address the nation on Monday evening and expected to announce a raft of stricter measures to help contain the virus.

Members of the army have confirmed that they have been instructed to prepare to be deployed in the country. One member told EWN that their commanders instructed them to be “battle ready” on Monday morning.

But they were told that the final order would come from Ramaphosa.

The SANDF memo states that the army will be deployed to eight provinces, with Limpopo excluded.

The province has only one reported case so far. In Gauteng – which is currently the epicentre with the highest number of COVID-19 confirmed cases – two sub-units will be deployed in the cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane.

Ramaphosa ramped up the country’s response to fight the virus last week by banning all gatherings of more than 100 people, restricting liquor trading and banning travel to high-risk countries.