The committee’s chairperson said the committee is pleased and whole-heartedly supports the decision taken by the president.
The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans welcomed the deployment of the South African Defence Force (SANDF) during the 21-day lockdown operations amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“As directed by the president, the SANDF will support the South African Police Service (SAPS) in ensuring that the measures announced to disrupt the chain of transmission of Covid-19 are implemented,” said the chairperson of the committee, Cyril Xaba.
Xaba said the committee was pleased and whole-heartedly supported the decision taken by the president.
He further drew attention to the importance of supporting the “brave men and women” who have been mandated with such an enormous task.
“We call on all South Africans to fully cooperate with the directions of our troops.
“These troops, along with health workers, members of the SAPS, emergency personnel and all those on the list of essential services who will be exempted from the lockdown are serving the country at the risk of their health and their lives to ensure that millions of South Africans are saved from infection,” he said.
Xaba said there were no words to describe the gratitude owed to the people helping fight the pandemic and as citizens, people needed to play their part by fully cooperating with the measures imposed.
He added that the committee extends its appreciation and well wishes to those deployed during the battle against Covid-19.
What does lockdown mean for journalists?
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) also welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement on Tuesday.
In a statement, Sanef said: “We note the categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown include health workers, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), emergency personnel, those in the security services, the production of food and basic goods, essential banking services, and so on.
“We note that journalists were not included in the speech – but that a ‘full list of essential personnel will be published’. Our understanding is that journalists will be part of the list.”
Sanef said it believed that it was essential that journalists be allowed to do their jobs so that ordinary citizens have a clear understanding of what was happening in their country “so that they can contain and fight the disease”.
“With people under lockdown, they need the media for information, to stay abreast of what is happening, to know what to do. Broadcasters need special permits to move from their houses to the studios. Media companies have already taken special measures to ensure only a skeleton staff is on call.”
Sanef said it would be seeking further information from the Presidency and the Government Communication and Information System on Tuesday to get clarity on issues such as the categories of media workers who may be excluded.
“Does this include workers at printing presses, delivery truck drivers etc. – identification issues, press cards, possible child care for single parents who are journalists and so on? We will report back to the industry as soon as we have further information.
“Finally, Sanef again calls on all media houses to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of journalists and to avoid sensationalism. We need to ensure the distribution of responsible, fact-checked, credible news and information,” Sanef added.
(Background reporting by News24 Wire)