Air Force Association needs funds to maintain SAAF Memorial

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The Pretoria branch of the SA Air Force Association (SAAFA) has appealed to members and life members to pay membership dues. This will, among others, go toward maintaining the SA Air Force Memorial on Bays Hill.

According to the latest branch newsletter, a portion of the fees received “importantly” goes toward maintenance of the memorial on the northern side of AFB Zwartkop.
“The SAAF Memorial is jointly owned by the SAAF and SAAFA and in the past the SAAF financed the costs of maintenance and upkeep, this is no longer entirely possible and SAAFA feels a moral obligation to contribute to our joint asset. The recent treatment and painting of the perimeter palisade fence, funded by SAAFA, is an example of this,” the newsletter reports.

The call to pay is further explained by the newsletter as “many joined SAAFA as life members, some many years ago. At the time life membership meant just that – member for life with no further obligation or expectation of further membership dues. Life has changed and our Association has also changed with operational expenses increasing exponentially and the profile of our benevolence programmes changing substantially. In addition, where the SAAF and SAAFA have joint interests in activities or assets, the costs and maintenance of such was in the past borne by the SAAF”.

According to the latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will spend R74,5 million on “day-to-day” maintenance of its facilities in the 2017/18 financial year.

The SAAF Memorial is dedicated to all who gave their lives in service of South Africa, in war and peace, and was officially opened by the then State President, Mr CR Swart, on September 1, 1963.

A piece by Sydney Fryer, written for SAAFA, notes the memorial was designed to obtain a shape sculpturally symbolic of flight when viewed both from the ground and from the air. To this end the building was planned in three wings comprising the accommodation called for: a small non-denominational chapel for family services, caretaker’s office and a machine room for fountain pump and filter plant, with a separate folded slab roof over each. These wings intersect over and enfold a central hall housing a Cenotaph, Rolls of Honour and illuminated scripts. The Cenotaph, the centrepiece of the design, is three sided to accommodate the SAAF motto, “Per Aspera Ad Astra” and two biblical quotations.
“The SAAF Memorial is a living monument, with continuous upgrades and development. The surrounding gardens have grown significantly over the years and access roads and parking areas were changed to ease the flow of traffic during Memorial Days.
“With the end of apartheid in 1994 and the subsequent amalgamation of the various air forces into the new SA Air Force, the memorial was found not to be representative of the relevant history, as it did not include all groups. To this end a Commemorative Stone with an Eternal Flame was designed and built in the centre of the main entrance walkway to the Memorial. It lists the forces that became the new SA Air Force as: Azanian People’s Liberation Army, Bophuthatswana Air Force, Ciskei Defence Force Air Wing, Mkontho We Sizwe (Armed wing of the ANC), SA Air Force, Transkei Defence Force Air Wing and Venda Defence Force Air Wing”.