SA National Defence Force holds Armed Forces Day
On 28 February 2019 the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) held Armed Forces Day in Cape Town. They extended their sincerest gratitude to the residents of the Mother City and the surrounding areas in the Western Cape for their rousing welcome and support throughout the planning and execution stages of this year’s Armed Forces Day event. They said that what the SANDF has achieved in Cape Town would not have been possible had it not been for the authorities and people of this marvellous city. It was through their support that the SANDF successfully managed to commemorate the sinking of SS Mendi, honour its heroes and heroines in the largest military parade in Cape Town since 1994 and conduct real-time mission readiness training to showcase the readiness of the SANDF.
The SANDF’s media office released the following statement: As we mark 25 years since the establishment of the SANDF as a defence force for the people, we are reaffirming our commitment towards the maintenance of a diverse national defence force that serves not a select few within the population of South Africa but the entire citizenry, united in their diversity.
We reaffirm our constitutional pledge to never allow horrific events of yesteryear to happen again with tanks and Casspirs rolling into our people’s residential areas and causing untold mayhem, killing and terrorising our people. We understand our position in a constitutional setting and have pledged total commitment towards remaining apolitical and steer away from the charged political domain interrogated in our public discourse.
As the SANDF, we serve the people of South Africa and shall under no circumstance harm their interests and constitutional aspirations.
The SANDF is a constitutional creation that sources its existence, structure and functions from our world-renowned Constitution, Act 108 of 1996 and will always strive to defend our democracy and a unified South African nation.
Revered American civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King Jr once advised that: “Those who love peace must learn to organise as effectively as those who love war,” and as the defence force of a peace-loving nation we heed those wise words and always ensure that our troops are thoroughly prepared for any eventuality regardless of the shape of the battlefield, hence our force readiness operation conducted in Cape Town through the Night Shoot and Capability Demonstration.
AFD 2019 provided us with an opportunity to flex our military muscle and also test our logistical readiness to sustain a force engaged in a domestic operation with elements transported from across the length and breadth of our country. It is through these force preparation exercises allow us to play such a valuable role on our continent in Peacekeeping Operations. These exercises allow us to silence the bone-ravaging guns of the M23 in the DRC and bring lasting peace in Burundi and other conflict-ridden areas across our vast continent.
The Cape Town terrain also allowed us to test the operational readiness of our technical service corps who shown their rapid reaction capability recovering a Kwêvoël Samil 100 from the sand at Sunrise Beach during the massively attended Capability Demonstration.
Unfortunately, no matter how great a job the SANDF does, there are some sectors within society – those who are conceited and undermine the gains made since the advent of democracy – who will find or even fabricate issues to malign the good name of the SANDF. One such example was an instance where an apartheid-era image of a Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicle half-submerged underwater was falsely assigned as an SANDF vehicle with the writer suggesting that it shows the disdain and incompetence of our soldiers, to manage expensive state-of-the-art military hardware. As we all know, that accusation was conceited, misleading and served to propel a narrative that seeks to discredit our defence force without cause.
There is a saying that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But when that picture is a misleading one about the country’s armed forces, there is a great danger that the people might turn against the very same military that was created to defend them and for this, all patriotic South Africans must condemn advocates of such fallacies and divisive innuendos with the contempt they deserve.
There were also isolated incidents where some residents felt our presence in the Western Cape would harm the marine ecosystem and biodiversity. We can ensure the citizens of South Africa and especially Cape Town that as the SANDF we confirmed that the city stakeholders dealing with these stated fields of interest were consulted and all by-laws adhered to with the necessary permissions and remedial measures provided. The SANDF adheres to all laws of the land including environmental health and safety and animal welfare statutes. We have done this in all cities we have hosted AFD, especially at the coastal cities of Port Elizabeth and Durban with their vast marine life. The City of Cape Town was not going to be an exception to the norm.
The SANDF adhered to all restrictions from the City of Cape Town and acquired the necessary permissions in as far as all the AFD activities were concerned. We have done in Cape Town what we have done during the previous installations of AFD in Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Potchefstroom, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Kimberley.
In our quest to stay true to our constitution and what it enjoins us to do, there have always been doomsayers who never wished us well but faltered us even where fairness does not warrant it. It is at times unfortunate when the said criticism is presented in a condescending manner and borders on issues of race and politics – in ‘they and us’ kind of arguments which are a domain we as the armed forces are not empowered or interested in to navigate.
The SANDF is an apolitical organisation that is passionate about serving the people and harbours no ambition to be embroiled in political machinations of the day, either with politicians or civilians.
Having said that, we commend the overwhelming support by residents of Cape Town and surrounding areas towards making AFD 2019 a huge success. These residents commended the good work that our men and women in uniform do and also praised us for a magnificent display both during the Fan Park activities in Khayelitsha, the Ship Open Days at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the Night Shoot at Sunrise Beach as well as the ultimate parade and Capability Demonstration at Bloubergstrand with the President of the Republic of South Africa and Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, President Ramaphosa officiating. The people of Cape Town came out in their numbers from diverse backgrounds – befitting of a true rainbow nation - to support their national defence force and that is affirmation enough for the great work the SANDF is doing.
The SANDF’s presence in the Western Cape also served as an economic stimulus as most, if not all services, to sustain AFD 2019 were being locally sourced.
Lastly, we appreciate the support given by the community of Malmesbury and all Capetonians in general to the family of our fallen soldier, Corporal Randal Jacques Krynauw from 1 Special Service Battalion, who passed away during an accident on his way to the Mother City for this year’s Armed Forces Day. The SANDF and our principals in government stood side-by-side with his family in their time of need and rendered the level of support in accordance with his ultimate sacrifice.
He is a hero that will be added to the roll of honour of our sons and daughters who served their country with pride and a high degree of patriotism. We wish those injured with him a speedy recovery.
Source: South African National Defence Force, Defence media liaison
Photos: Aviation Central and Simon McDonnell