Fact Check: No, SANDF Did Not Deploy 70 000 Soldiers During Covid19 Lockdown

Fact Check: No, SANDF Did Not Deploy 70 000 Soldiers During Covid19 Lockdown

  • A number of news publications have reported that 70 000 soldiers we deployed to keep order during the Covid-19 lockdown
  • The Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, in a statement published in May 2021 stated that over 8 000 soldiers were actually deployed
  • Mapisa-Nqakula says an additional 25 000 soldiers have been deployed to assist police in dealing with current riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng

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A number of news outlets have compared the deployment of the South African National Defence Force military personnel in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to the deployment of soldiers during the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020.

Reports have stated that around 70 000 soldiers were deployed in 2020, however, director of defence intelligence and news organisation African Defence Review Darren Oliver says that this is not true, reports AfricaCheck.

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SANDF, 70 000 soldiers, deployment, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, unrest, violent protest
The department of defence only had about 8 000 soldiers on the ground during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Image: Phill Magakoe / AFP
Source: Getty Images

In a statement made on May 2021, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula stated that 8 119 soldiers were actually deployed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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Head of communications for the department of defence Siphiwe Dlamini says there is a stark difference between the deployment of soldiers and actual boots on the ground and that publications were confusing employment with deployment.

Only about 74,000 people work for the Department of Defense, and not all of them are soldiers, so it would not be possible to deploy 70 000 soldiers.

IOL reported that Mapisa-Nqakula announced that 25 00 soldiers were deployed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to assist law enforcement officials to deal with ongoing violent protests and looting taking place in the province.

The deployment is in addition to 5 000 soldiers that were already on the ground by Wednesday. Mapisa-Nqakula also stated that President Cyril Ramaphosa wanted 10 000 more boots on the ground while opposition parties suggested that an additional 75 000 soldiers be deployed in areas experiencing high levels of violence and looting.

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SANDF prohibits soldiers from firing warning shots

Briefly News recently reported that the South African National Defence Force has given soldiers deployed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal specific instructions on how to handle civil unrest in the country. Soldiers have been expressly prohibited from firing warning shots when dispersing crowds engaging in riots and looting.

The code of conduct for Operation Prosper was published on Wednesday and it stated that they are not allowed to assault members of the public and are further encouraged to exercise personal restraint, according to Business Insider.

SANDF military personnel are also prohibited from swearing when communicating with members of the general public or interacting with the media.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the deployment of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) on Monday night, dubbed Operation Prosper.

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Source: Briefly News

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