President attends Armed Forces Day celebrations

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa as the Commander-in-Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will this morning officiate the Armed Forces Day celebrations in Kimberley, Northern Cape.   

Armed Forces Day commemorates the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi on 21 February 1917, which became one of South African’s worst tragedies of the First World War (1914-1918). 

A total of 616 of South African black troops died when the SS Mendi steamship sank on its way to France.  
 
The Armed Forces Day celebrations, which started at 8am at the Cenotaph World War Monument, also seeks to expand public understanding of the role of the SANDF and it further demonstrates the capability and contribution to society of the country's armed forces.

According to SANDF, the main event will commence with a wreath-laying ceremony officiated by President Ramaphosa to pay tribute to the men who perished during the sinking of the SS Mendi.

President Ramaphosa will also award gold medals to members of the SANDF for their outstanding work and service to the country.
 
This will be followed by a parade through the streets of Kimberley, comprising a flag company, a gun carriage, marching columns, military bands, mechanised columns with hundreds of vehicles and a fly-past by the SA Air Force.

A total of 6 525 SANDF members will participate along with 41 aircraft from SA Air Force, 222 specialised vehicles, 374 operational vehicles, 66 buses and 60 motorcycles.

According to SANDF, the SA Air Force aircrafts will include Hawk and Gripen, C-130, CASA 212, King Air transports, and Rooivalk, Agusta A109 and BK 117 helicopters, Pilatus PC-7 trainers, SAAF Museum aircraft, as well as the performance by Silver Falcons Aerobatic display team.

The SANDF has been holding a weeklong event since last week ahead of the commemoration this morning. These include the opening of a fan park where career opportunities in the SANDF are outlined, musical concerts, community outreach programmes which were carried out in various schools, as well as public viewing places.

Following the celebrations, President Ramaphosa will return to Cape Town to attend the Budget Speech by the Minister of Finance. - SAnews.gov.za

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