THE South African National Defence Force has been essential to the country’s national efforts to defeat the coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday in Cape Town.
Ramaphosa was speaking during the Armed Forces Day to commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi in 1917 during the First World War in which 616 black South African troops were killed in the tragedy.
The steamship collided with another ship, the SS Darro on its way to France.
“Through the invaluable work you have done – and continue to do – during this pandemic, you have demonstrated that the SANDF can be relied on in good times and in bad; in times of peace and times of war; in times of stability and prosperity, and in times of crisis,” said Ramaphosa.
“By virtue of your calling and allegiance to the Constitution you acted when your country needed you most.”
Last year, more than 70,000 extra troops were deployed in South Africa to help enforce a lockdown intended to stop the spread of coronavirus – he country’s biggest military deployment for domestic purposes since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
Ramaphosa said the South African Military Health Service deployed its personnel in all provinces, where they worked in hotspots, and helped set up field hospitals and quarantine sites.
Ramaphosa also paid tribute soldiers who succumbed to COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.
“They are heroes who died in the line of duty,” said Ramaphosa.
(Source: Inside Politics)