South Africa reports first virus death as lockdown starts

Cheryl Sanders
March 28, 2020

In addition to this, the minister defended President Cyril Ramaphosa's military dress when he spoke to members of the SANDF, adamant that as commander-in-chief he was within his rights.

Thousands of police and soldiers were deployed on Friday to enforce a national lockdown in South Africa, while anti-riot police were mobilized in Kenya to impose an overnight curfew, as cases of the coronavirus continued to soar across the African continent.

South Africa, on the eve of a three-week lockdown, announced its coronavirus cases are nearing 1,000, while the president urged police to have compassion as they ensure that most of the country's 57 million people stay at home.

South Africa, which has the highest number of confirmed cases at 1,170, recorded its first death on Friday. A number of South Africans were hit with rubber bullets or beaten by soldiers, while hundreds of Kenyans were assaulted by police who fired tear gas and swung batons, according to video clips and news reports.

"I have even resorted to selling face masks so as I can be able to raise money and return to my homeland outside [Johannesburg]", said street vendor Dinko Seroka, as people lined up to take buses to more rural areas.

"This is unprecedented, not only in our democracy but also in the history of our country, that we will have a lockdown for 21 days to go out and wage war against an invisible enemy, coronavirus".

The sale of alcohol and cigarettes is prohibited, meal delivery has been banned, and citizens are not permitted to leave their homes for a walk or a jog.

South Africa's national lockdown is stricter than many other countries.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities ordered a four-day "total confinement" in the capital Kinshasa, starting Saturday. This came as a result of the staggering number of people who have been affected by the Corona Virus. We are traversing a path we have never travelled before. "There are many amongst us who are fearful, uncertain and vulnerable", the president said.

"I want after this mission the people of our country must look upon you as the SA National Defence Force and the SA Police Service and know you are the best in the world in that you will have been supportive to them, have given them assurance and have assisted in every way you can", Ramaphosa said.

Violation of any of the regulations will carry a six-month jail sentence or a fine.

Two men have already been charged with attempted murder for defying a quarantine order after they tested positive for the coronavirus, exposing others to the infection.

Moody's Investors Service warned Friday that the effect of border closures, commodity price declines and financial market volatility due to the pandemic will have "severe macroeconomic and financial impact on African sovereigns".

"Our industry is already suffering, and it's just the start".

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