South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday reminded troops deployed to assist police in coronavirus patrols to observe the rule of law while on duty.The caution comes after social media video clips showed the troops forcing civilians to do push-ups because they were found loitering outside their homes.
But Ramaphosa called on the defence forces to “act within the law and to ensure civilians’ safety at all times” during a speech to review the lockdown so far.
Responding to the criticism, South African National Defence Force spokesperson Sphiwe Dlamini said members of the public were equally responsible for observing the 21-lockdown regulations that stipulate that they stay home.
“As a member of the public, you’re equally on the wrong if you’re outside of your house during the lockdown.
“The lockdown stipulates very clearly that you’re supposed to be inside your own home and not walking around – unless you have a reason to be outside like shopping for groceries or going out to buy medicine,” Dlamini said.
The official however said he was “not justifying or condoning the behaviour of some of our soldiers.”
On Monday Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula condemned the alleged conduct of her soldiers – but also called on members of the public to not provoke them.