On the 26th day of the national Covid-19 lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa lauded South Africans for their fortitude, acknowledged the suffering and reiterated the gravity of the situation, but also sought to inspire hope for a better future.
Addressing the nation on the government's economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic on Tuesday evening, Ramaphosa said the lockdown demanded "great fortitude and endurance" from South Africans and caused much suffering and sacrifice.
"Once again, I salute you and I thank you," he said, appearing calm, his voice unwavering and measured, but the gravity of the situation etched on his face.
"The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted your lives and damaged our economy."
He warned that the pandemic's severity will continue to take a heavy toll in the weeks and months to come.
"Medical scientists and our doctors inform us that we are still in the early stages of this pandemic," he said.
"Without proven therapeutic medicines or a vaccine, we can expect this to continue as a problem for the foreseeable future."
Ramaphosa acknowledged that the pandemic caused a sudden loss of income for businesses and individuals and deepened poverty and increased hunger.
Economic relief programme
However, he remained steadfast that the "urgent and dramatic measures" his government has taken to delay the spread of the virus have been "absolutely necessary".
"They have given us the space to better respond to the inevitable rise in infections and to thereby save tens of thousands of lives.
"While the nationwide lockdown is having a devastating effect on our economy, it is nothing compared to the catastrophic human, social and economic cost if the coronavirus could spread among our people unchecked."
Ramaphosa then announced an economic relief programme of R500 billion.
"We will - and we must - do whatever it takes to recover from this human, social and economic crisis," he said.
"Our country and the world we live in will never be the same."
He said South Africans have opened their hearts to each other over the past month.
"Even at this moment when such great sacrifice is demanded of us, we look to a better future with optimism.
"Even as we find ourselves at a moment of great peril, even as great sacrifices are demanded, even as we dare not allow our vigilance to waver, we look ahead to a better future.
"I have faith in the strength and resilience of ordinary South Africans, who have proven time and time again - throughout our history - that they can rise to the challenge.
"We shall recover. We shall overcome. We shall prosper," he concluded.