South Africa has recorded its first two deaths attributed to COVID-19 while the number of confirmed cases has risen over 1,000. The country has been in a state of lockdown for 14 hours.
JOHANNESBURG - Members of the National Command Council spoke to the nation on Friday about the successes and challenges of the first day of the 21-day national lockdown.
Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula began the briefing and reported on the SANDF deployment around the country.
Mapisa-Nqakula said while the army had been deployed to all provinces, there have been some loopholes that will still be addressed, especially in areas such as Alexandra.
The minister confirmed a total of 3,000 SANDF soldiers have been deployed for the mission, but some are on standby -- meaning not all will be on the ground at the same time.
She reiterated the role of the SANDF during the lockdown was to support law enforcement but SAPS has the power of arrest.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula reported some challenges with public transport, including queues and a lack of facilities for some essential services.
The minister called on taxi associations and drivers to assist the government in upholding the regulations set out by the Health Department, particularly social distancing.
The minister had strong words for people seeking to travel long distances and attempting to “undermine the lockdown”, saying they were working against a common goal.
Police minister Bheki Cele was on the ground in the early hours of the lockdown, with the SAPS enforcing the new regulations.
Cele reiterated the fight is against a common enemy and said whoever breaks the law is joining the enemy of the South African people.
Trade and Industry minister Ebrahim Patel said with a few exceptions to be corrected, most of the economy was halted outside of essential services.
The minister said new regulations have been signed to control the export of goods like face masks, hand sanitisers, and medicine which will be key in the battle against the spread and impact of the virus.
Retailers will be restocking their shelves over the weekend and the list of essential goods has been expanded to include baby products and personal care items like deodorant and face wash.
Patel also asked that people try their best to understand the restrictions saying, "the countries that were too flexible, that were too easy are now paying a massive price with huge numbers of people dying."
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi reported congestion at the Beitbridge border post with people trying to leave the country ahead of the midnight deadline but made assurances that all the issues were ironed out.
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