Take the South African National Defence Force into the future — that’s the message from SANDF Commander-in-Chief President Cyril Ramaphosa to the men and women in uniform.
“To our soldiers, yours is a clear mission, to take the SANDF into the future; to uphold our constitutional order and the rule of law.
“To defend and protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity. And above all, to contribute towards the well-being, prosperity and upliftment of the people of South Africa,” said the President.
President Ramaphosa honoured the men and women in uniform and called on them to continue to uphold the laws of the country and drive the country into a new dawn at the annual Armed Forces Day in Cape Town on Thursday.
The President officiated at the wreath laying ceremony at the SS Mendi Memorial site at the University of Cape Town.
Armed Forces Day is the biggest event on the SANDF calendar and commemorates the sinking of the SS Mendi on 21 February 1917.
A total of 616 of South African black troops died when the SS Mendi steamship sank on its way to France, making it one of South African’s worst tragedies of the First World War (1914-1918).
This year, week-long celebrations are held to mark Armed Forces Day.
Armed Forces Day celebrations, 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.
The SANDF is divided into four arms: South African Army; South African Air Force; South African Navy and the South African Military Health Service.
The mandate of the SANDF is to defend and protect the State, support government initiatives and ensure that the SANDF, which constitutes the armed forces of South Africa, is able to contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.
President Ramaphosa reflected on the work of the military, highlighting their efforts during their deployment to hospitals across Gauteng in 2017 after industrial action nearly paralysed services in the province.
“A year later, military health personnel were dispatched to Mahikeng Hospital in the North West, where their intervention averted the near collapse of health services in the facility,” said the President.
At present, a specialist team of army personnel is working in the Vaal area to contain a sewage spillage that is threatening the health and well-being of millions of people.