- While South Africans heralded in the national lockdown at home, President Cyril Ramaphosa was on the ground
- Addressing members of the SA National Defence Force, Ramaphosa handed down marching orders
- The army was urged to be kind during this uncertain period for South Africa
President Cyril Ramaphosa laid down his usual suit and tie in favour of army dress on Thursday evening.
Addressing members of the SA National Defence Force, Ramaphosa highlighted the importance of the task at hand:
"Go out and have the best of missions, this is a mercy mission, this is a life-restoration mission, this is a life-saving mission, this is a life-giving mission. Go out and save the lives of South Africans."
Troops at the Doornkop army base in Soweto were asked to carry out the mission with respect and responsibility.
The army has been deployed to bolster police forces during the 21-day lockdown period, the first deployment since the end of apartheid.
The president told the troops that citizens would be stressed and unsure during this time:
"They will be looking up to you to give them confidence that everything will be alright, they will be looking unto you not as a force of might but as a force of kindness. This is not the time for skop en donner. This is a moment to be supportive of our people."
Troops were told avoiding the violation of citizen's rights is of utmost importance during the lockdown:
"Nudge them in the right direction, yes, nudge them in the right direction but of course if there's resistance, do indicate to them that they are challenging the might of the South African state, the leadership of this country and they are challenging the president."
Briefly.co.za reported that just hours after this address, the Health Ministry confirmed the first two deaths due to the coronavirus in the Western Cape.
The number of confirmed cases has also passed the 1 000 mark, according to Minister Zweli Mkhize.
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