By: Mpho Khalo: Junior Curator, DITSONG: National Museum of Military History




Coronaviruses are a group of viruses belonging to the family of Coronaviridae, infecting animals and humans. On 31 December 2019, Covid-19 was reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global health emergency on 30 January 2020. Working closely with global experts, the South African government and partners rapidly expanded scientific knowledge on this new virus to provide timely advice on measures to protect people’s health and prevent the spread of this outbreak. However, the first known infections from Covid-19 were discovered in Wuhan, China.

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Subsequently, the President of South Africa declared a State of National Disaster on 15 March 2020 to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.

The National Lockdown was enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus amongst the population on 27 March 2020.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Commander in Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), directed that the military be deployed in support of the South African Police Services (SAPS) to enforce the lockdown measures in accordance with the State of National Disaster Act 57 of 2002.


Mandate and Legal Provisions

  • The mandate of the South African National Defence force is to support the South African Police Services in the enforcement of the lockdown regulations.
  • SANDF supports and works with the National Department of Health on managing Covid-19.
  • To support Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in efforts to maintain or enhance the population’s living conditions.
  • To enhance border safeguarding.

Legal Provisions (1)

  • Section 27(2) of the Act makes provision for the promulgation of regulations or/and allows for the employment of the SANDF as well as issue directions, subject to subsection 27(3) of the Act, amongst other things:
  • Section 27 (2)(a) is the release of resources,s including stores, equipment, vehicles, and facilities.


Figure 1. Some South African National Defence Force members patrol during deployment to combat and enforce Covid-19 regulations (Source: Social Media –Facebook).



The army’s mission during patrols was to ensure communities and essential workers’ compliance with the regulations of Covid-19. The events were not allowed per the regulations to control the virus’s spread. The policies were developed in the workplace, and technology to have virtual meetings would enable community members and employees to work from home. Permits were issued to essential workers to show to the military and police personnel.

Figure 2. South African National Defence Force members during patrols (Source: Social Media -Facebook).


  • Section 27 (2)(b) the release of personnel for rendering emergency services.


Legal Provisions (2)


  • Section 27 (3) of the Act may be exercised only to the extent that is necessary for:
  • Section 27 (3) (a) assistance and protection of public
  • Section 27 (3)(b) provides relief to the public
  • Section 27 (3) (c) protecting property


Infection and Transmission


Human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 was confirmed on 20 January 2020 during the pandemic.

The transmission was initially assumed to occur primarily via respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. Other studies have suggested that the virus may be airborne, with aerosols potentially being able to transmit the virus.


The approach and strategy at the workplace were to develop response plans to assist the employees and minimise the risk at work. This involves practising good personal hygiene and using on-site safety practices to prevent the spread of the virus.


The following regulations had to be practised to prevent the spread and transmission of Covid-19:


  • Maintain a distance of 1.5 m between yourself and anyone around you.
  • Avoid touching of nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • Thoroughly and regularly washing hands with soap and alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
  • Masks have to be worn at all times.


In addition, employees and members of the communities must familiarise themselves with the symptoms of Covid-19, which include the following:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, and body aches.

If you develop such symptoms, you should see the doctor or visit a hospital. If testing positive for Covid-19, one must quarantine for 14 days and take medication.



The observation and the monitoring of the pre-and post-Covid-19 were indeed handled well by the army and the government. Army ever, in the future, the following are my recommendations to assist the communities with the development of technology:

With the help of the private sector, the government should provide data for communities to download applications for health to have medication and purchase food. This will help during isolation and minimise contact within the communities.



–  Figure 1 South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Source   Courtesy of Social Media: Facebook.

–  Figure 2 South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Source   Courtesy of Social Media: Facebook.

– COGTA Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

– World Health Organisation (WHO).

– the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes Covid-19 Coronavirus disease.

– South African Constitution: State of the National Disaster Act 57 of 2002.

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