SANDF celebrates 10 years of peacekeeping

Friday, October 16, 2009
By: 
Gabi Khumalo

Bloemfontein - Not even the heavy rains managed to spoil the revelry in Bloemfontein today as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) marked its 10th year of participation in Peace Support Operations.

From early on Friday, the drums and trumpets of the Army's band could be heard as members of the Navy, Airforce and Army's Military Health Services marched towards the podium where President Jacob Zuma was to address them.

Dressed in their white, navy and camouflage uniforms, the SANDF members gave a sterling performance. They marched around the podium where the national flag flying high, holding their guns and own flags.

On arrival, the President and Minister for Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, were welcomed with a 21-gun salute and salute flight.

The two laid a wreath in honour of those members who died while conducting peace missions.

The event is being held to mark an important milestone in the country's involvement in diplomatic endeavors to help eradicate conflicts in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region and on the African continent as a whole.

This has become a key element of South Africa's foreign policy and it is one of the largest troop contributors to peace missions in Africa.

The SANDF has been involved in several peace keeping operations in war-torn countries like Burundi, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Colonel Phindile Ntsele, who joined the force in 2000, told BuaNews that the peace missions played a significant role in ensuring stability in Africa and he was proud to be part of the force.

"Without peace, economies become affected, hence the need for peace in our region.

"I'm happy because the effort of our country in sustaining peace in other African countries like the DRC has been fruitful. I'm proud to be part of the troops," he said.