A squad of South African National Defence (SANDF) soldiers were allegedly caught on camera ordering shops to close, days before the national lockdown is set to take effect.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced earlier in the week that a lockdown will be implemented in response to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fears of abuse of power by the SANDF
In enforcing some of the regulations that will be in place in the 21-day lockdown, the Commander-In-Chief has enlisted the help of the SANDF, who will be stationed to ensure maximum compliance.
There have been alarming videos doing the rounds on social media, with soldiers stating their intention to use force in getting people to comply.
In one video, an officer is seen showing off his “size 8” boots, and bragging about how they will “slide across a person’s face”
Bantu base Bhayi basop. pic.twitter.com/FAGUc8pkqj
— UH HUH HONEY (@itsSandisiwe) March 24, 2020
In another video, which emerged on Monday, more soldiers are seen ordering to stay in their homes and ordering a shop to close.
— PEULWANE (@Peulwane) March 24, 2020
‘No skop, skiet and donder’
On Wednesday, the public was assured by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula that there would be no use of force by the SANDF, unless deemed necessary.
The minister said the soldiers will not trample on citizens constitutional rights.
“It will only be skop, skiet en donder when circumstances determine that. For now we’re a constitutional democracy. We do understand that our obligations are in terms of the constitution. Our soldiers understand the circumstances under which they are being deployed,” she said at a press conference on Wednesday night.
Speaking about the videos that have been doing the rounds, she dismissed their authenticity.
“There is no deployment of soldiers, currently, in the streets of South Africa … When you have seen them, you have seen them in moving, in transit,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the South African Police Services, who will be working alongside the SANDF, will be the ones leading the operations during the lockdown.