All however important motion is forbidden and each the military and the police are imposing the measures.
Ahead of the midnight deadline there have been lengthy queues outdoors supermarkets as individuals stocked up on necessities.
South Africa has reported 927 coronavirus infections – the very best in Africa – however to date no deaths.
Late on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa visited troopers earlier than they had been deployed from a base within the Soweto township of Johannesburg.
“I send you out to go and defend our people against coronavirus,” he mentioned, carrying a camouflage uniform.
“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.”
Food retailers are allowed to remain open though alcohol gross sales are banned – Police Minister Bheki Cele urged South Africans to remain sober throughout the lockdown. Jogging and canine strolling are additionally prohibited.
On Thursday, heavy visitors was reported on the primary roads out of Johannesburg, regardless of a authorities attraction to not go on lengthy journeys.
Thousands of individuals thronged bus stations aiming to flee the capital and stick with household in rural areas, elevating fears that they may take the virus to older kin who’re retired in farms and villages.
The authorities have warned that anybody violating the foundations faces six months’ imprisonment or a heavy wonderful.
“If people are not complying, they (the military) may be forced to take extraordinary measures,” Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula warned.
South Africa has already closed colleges and banned gatherings of greater than 100 individuals.
Although Africa as a complete has not been hit as arduous as different elements of the world by the virus, consultants worry underfunded well being providers on the continent could possibly be rapidly overwhelmed by a sudden rise in instances.
In South Africa there are further fears for individuals residing with HIV – notably the estimated 2.5 million in South Africa who should not taking anti-retroviral medicine.