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SANDF to make a mark in Cape Town in February

Cape Town to host Armed Forces DayCape Town will next month host two major events on the South African national calendar with the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) prominent in both.

The first is the State of the Nation address (SONA) to be delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, on February 7 marking the opening of Parliament for the year.

Two weeks later on February 21 the national defence force will mark Armed Forces Day with Cape Town’s Bloubergstrand the centre of events.

The SANDF provides the military pomp and ceremony associated with the opening of Parliament in the form of the National Ceremonial Guard, an artillery salute, usually performed by a Reserve Force unit, and a flypast by SA Air Force (SAAF) PC-7 Mk11 aircraft from AFB Langebaanweg.

Armed Forces Day, which has morphed into a week of events, two weeks later is seen as a showcase for what South Africa’s senior military command calls “the people’s defence force”, at Bloubergstrand north of the Cape Town city centre with a panoramic view of Table Mountain.

While details of the 2019 event have not yet been made available indications are it will follow the Kimberly, Durban and Port Elizabeth events. These included demonstrations of military capability and capacity, career displays and guidance and interactions with the public as well as an address by the Commander-in-Chief.

The Cape Town Armed Forces Day is the third to be held at a coastal site and the SA Navy is expected to be a major component.

A programme of events issued by the SANDF for Armed Forces Day 2019 has it that SA Navy ships and submarines will be docked at the Cape Town Waterfront and open to the public. A fan park, career village and static display if military equipment and vehicles is on the programme but no venue is given, In inter-faith service at AFB Ysterplaat, a fun run at the Hamilton Rugby Club and a music concert in the Cape Town City Hall are other scheduled events.

A highlight is expected to be the night shoot at Muizenberg’s sunset Beach on February 19 with a rehearsal the day before.

February 21 is Armed Forces Day and it will be marked by a parade and military capability demonstration at Table View beach.

Last year Armed Forces Day was staged in Kimberley and marked the first appearance of the then newly named South African president as Commander-in-Chief. This was five days after he presented his first State of the Nation speech.

February 21 was chosen as Armed Forces Day in South Africa to commemorate the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi in the English Channel in 1917, South Africa’s worst naval tragedy.