South African President Cyril Ramaphosa plans to deploy more than 73,000 extra troops to help implement a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the defence minister said.
The country is four weeks into a strict police and military-enforced shutdown during which jogging, dog-walking and the sale of alcohol have been banned until the end of April.
Security forces have struggled to keep people indoors — particularly in overcrowded townships — and the police have been grappling with illegal alcohol sales, sometimes involving its own men.
In a letter to parliament tweeted by an opposition party leader, Ramaphosa announced his decision to deploy an additional 73,180 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) until June 26.
The operation is expected to cost around 4.5 billion rand ($2.4 million / 2.2 million euros), said the letter, which was dated Tuesday.
Those deployed comprise regular, reserve and auxiliary personnel.
In March, 2,820 soldiers were mobilised for the lockdown.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed the letter’s authenticity on Wednesday.